After the Kunstmuseum Bern has released a preliminary list that began to itemise some of the works in their controversial Gurlitt collection bequeathed to the institution by Cornelius Gurlitt, the first confirmed Nazi-looted piece has emerged from the contentious collection.
The New York Times has reported that a Camille Pissarro painting known as ‘Paris Kathedrale’ (1902) from the Kunstmuseum’s list was matched by a Jewish research team to a Pissarro painting listed as View of Paris (1902) in the Art objects at the Jeu de Paume database of stolen art. The painting was discovered among the collection that has been known colloquially as the “Munich Art Trove,” and 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.
Kunstmuseum Bern finally accepted artworks from the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt’s 1,300 works that was bequeathed to the museum by the German collector Cornelius Gurlitt, who died in May at the age of 81.
The discovery was later confirmed by the Director of the Kunstmuseum Bern, Matthias Frehner, who told the New York Times “We ourselves recognized that this is looted art.” He assured that “we will do our utmost to arrange a swift restitution.”
The Kunstmuseum Bern’s response to this latest development indicates that they are prepared to uphold their promise of transparency and adherence to the 1998 Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art. The agreement between the Kunstmuseum, the German state, and the Bavarian authorities investigating the Gurlitt collection was reached on Monday.
Even Ronald Lauder, collector and President of the World Jewish Congress who had previously threatened the Kunstmuseum Basel with an “Avalanche of lawsuits” if they accepted the ‘Trove’ – instead told the New York Times “the Bern museum has played it very correctly I think.”