LONDON (LA Times) — Dozens more masterpieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet have been discovered in a second home belonging to the elderly German recluse whose Munich apartment yielded an astonishing trove of more than 1,400 artworks, including some believed plundered by the Nazis.
The additional 60 pieces were kept inside Cornelius Gurlitt’s home in Salzburg, Austria, about two hours’ drive from his apartment in southern Germany. Authorities viewed and secured the precious works Monday, according to a statement by Gurlitt’s spokesman carried by Austrian and German media.
The statement added that a preliminary examination showed no matches between the newly found pieces and the treasures known to have been looted by the Nazis during their pogroms against Jews and their campaign against what they termed “degenerate art.” Besides Picasso and Monet, the Salzburg cache contains paintings by important artists such as Edouard Manet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Gurlitt, who is in his early 80s, is the son of well-known Nazi-era art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt. The elder Gurlitt helped Hitler’s murderous regime collect and cash in on artworks, including some taken from Jews who used them as bribes to flee Europe or who were shipped off to concentration and extermination camps.
Many of those pieces have vanished. The current George Clooney film “The Monuments Men” depicts the race in the waning days of World War II to rescue art stolen by the Nazis.
Gurlitt’s stash in Salzburg comes on top of the 1,406 paintings, drawings and etchings that German authorities found stuffed inside his cramped Munich flat in early 2012. The astounding hoard included works, some of them hitherto unknown, by many of the leading lights of Western art of the last 150 years.
The discovery was not announced publicly until last November, after a German news magazine broke the story. At the time, a Munich customs inspector said it was unlikely that the reclusive Gurlitt had more priceless artworks squirreled away somewhere else.
Officials did not provide an explanation Tuesday for the discovery of a second trove. The new find is likely to spur additional criticism from those who say that German authorities have been too secretive about Gurlitt’s massive collection, withholding information even as the descendants of people whose possessions were confiscated by the Nazis try to recover their rightful property.
Of the original cache, about 380 items have been identified as looted by the Nazis. Last month, Gurlitt’s lawyer said his client was willing to negotiate restitution and compensation for some of the pieces.
Gurlitt aroused the suspicion of authorities in September 2010 when a customs check found him to be carrying about $12,000 in cash, close to the legal limit, on a train journey between Switzerland and Germany. A raid on his cluttered Munich home stretched over three days as incredulous officers uncovered masterpiece after masterpiece by such artists as Henri Matisse, Gustave Courbet and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec.
After inheriting them from his father in 1956, Gurlitt apparently maintained the works in good condition for more than half a century, stowing the pieces in a way that would preserve their colors.
A partial inventory has been published online by the German government.
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