BERLIN (Reuters) – Over two years after the discovery of missing masterpieces looted by the Nazis from their Jewish owners, German officials and a Swiss museum are expected to confirm on Monday that the paintings will go to Switzerland.
The Bern Art Museum discovered in May it had been named sole heir of Cornelius Gurlitt, the recluse who kept the collection of 1,280 artworks hidden for decades until tax inspectors stumbled upon them on a visit to his Munich apartment in 2012.
Gurlitt died in May at the age of 81. The trove of Modernist and Renaissance masterpieces, which includes works by Chagall and Picasso, was assembled by his father Hildebrand, an art dealer charged with selling what Hitler called “degenerate” art.
The World Jewish Congress has warned the museum it risks an “avalanche” of lawsuits if it accepts the works. To limit the legal risks, the museum may leave some pieces in Germany until their origin has been determined, according to media reports.
German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters and Christoph Schaeublin, president of the museum’s foundation board, are due to hold a news conference in Berlin on Monday to explain their decision.