Gurlitt Munich Art Trove Matisse Restitution Delayed

There seems to be no end in sight for the saga of Cornelius Gurlitt’s ‘Munich Art Trove’. The collection was originally collated by Cornelius Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt. Gurlitt senior was one of four art dealers entrusted with selling so-called degenerate art during the Nazi regime’s rule. The collection included a number high-value works from the period by Henri Matisse, Max Liebermann, Otto Dix, and Marc Chagall, among others. Originally estimated at the value of nearly £700 million – the value dropped significantly as many pieces are believed to have been looted from Jewish families by the Nazis.

Now the latest episode in the story concerns the restitution of a portrait by Henri Matisse found in the Munich apartment of the late Cornelius Gurlitt. The work was traced to the legendary French dealer and collector, Paul Rosenberg, but the restitution of the piece is facing additional delays, Monopol reports.

In June of last year, the committee tasked with the provenance research of the ‘Munich Art Trove’ determined that The painting ‘Seated Woman/Woman Sitting in Armchair’ (1921) had belonged to Rosenberg. According to a statement by the Kunstmuseum (Museum of Fine Arts Bern), Switzerland that previously agreed to accept artworks from the collection of Gurlitt’s 1,300 works that had been bequeathed to the museum by the German collector – as claimants, Rosenberg’s heirs have not provided all of the required documents in their case.

In order to release the painting, the heirs are required to prove their inheritance rights. The Rosenberg heirs only submitted the relevant evidence to the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media at the end of January of this year; this month the heirs agreed to submit the missing documents via their legal representative.

The Kunstmuseum Bern has claimed that the procedural delay in the Rosenberg restitution case has been further prolonged by Gurlitt’s cousins Uta Werner and Dietrich Gurlitt’s disputing the validity of the will, and laying claim to the Matisse work of art themselves.

But the dissagreement has been denied by the Rosenberg family, Chrisopher Marinello, has stated: “An agreement has been signed between the family of Uta Werner and the Rosenberg heirs which represents an unconditional renunciation of any interest in the Rosenberg Matisse.”


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