The Kunstmuseum Bern has called the huge art bequest by Cornelius Gurlitt a “bolt from the blue, since at no time has Mr Gurlitt had any connection with” the museum.
Christoph Edel, Mr Gurlitt's lawyer, phoned the museum on May 7,
the day after his client died, to tell it that it was "his
unrestricted and unfettered sole heir".
It is just the latest twist in the extraordinary tale of a hoard
of art worth hundreds of millions of pounds originally stashed by
Mr Gurlitt's art dealing father, Hildebrand, who had been ordered
to dispose of works deemed degenerate by the Nazis.
Bavarian authorities seized the hoard of more than 1200 works
when it came to light in Mr Gurlitt junior's Munich apartment in
2012 - around another 300 were later discovered in a second home -
since when it has been at the centre of legal investigations.
In February, a deal was finally struck by which hundreds of
works would be returned to Mr Gurlitt while the remainder would
continue to be investigated.
The museum published a statement, saying: "The Board of Trustees
and Directors of Kunstmuseum Bern are surprised and delighted, but
at the same time do not wish to conceal the fact that this
magnificent bequest brings with it a considerable burden of
responsibility and a wealth of questions of the most difficult and
sensitive kind, and questions in particular of a legal and ethical
nature. They will not be in a position to issue a more detailed
statement before first consulting the relevant files and making
contact with the appropriate authorities."
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