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ART TROVE IN MUNICH WORTH 1.5 BILLION EUROS

 
 
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 05:07 am
Apparently a collection of "degenerate art" was amassed by Dr Goebbels via forced sales from Jews that were allowed to emigrate from Germany prior to WWII.
A single piece of Max Beckman work was being quietly sold by a Mr Cornelius Gurlitt of Munich. It was later discovered that My Gurlitt was sitting on about 1500 works of art by Picasso, Matisse, and others . These works were seized by German authorities in 2011. How come its been 2 years since this is even disclosed and what is the German govt going to do to achieve "justice" in dealing with this collection that is reportedly worth 1.5 Billion, or about 10 million for each work.

The news showed this modest little apartment in Munich where Gurlitt apparently lived. How the hell did he get all these works in there undetected and 1500 paintings make a fairly big pile .
All these questions.
I hope that a settlement agreement is forthcoming where the descendants of the original owners are fairly compensated and that the paintings themselves should probably now go into a nationl museum associated with the Holocaust.

Any ideas?
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Type: Question • Score: 10 • Views: 10,000 • Replies: 211

 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 05:17 am
On CBC news last evening, there was a gentleman from an American university (Maryland? . . . i don't recall) who is involved in the restoration of art works to survivors or their families, or in obtaining compensation. He stated that the police in Germany have known about this for two years and that even now, with the news breaking publicly, they are not cooperating with the efforts by his organization and other organizations involved in restitution/compensation.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 05:32 am
@Setanta,
I heard and Im wondering whether the Bvarian officials are looking to let this just "blow by" without any compensation?.

The history of these is somewhat interesting because (as in the NYT-on line) My Cornelius Gurlitt's vater was a Nazi who was an important curator of several art museums. He was , during the war, discovered to be 1/4 Jewish and was relieved of his many official posts under Nazi racial purity laws. Goebbels allowed him to continue in his role as "bursar" of collections for Hitlers "Sonderauftrag Linz" . Hitler probably dismissed all these works as "degenerate" and so they piled up and Ill bet guys like Hess and Goering were sniffing around to add some of them to their private collections. So Mr Gurlitts (sr) amassed these works and his son benefitted. (Although the reality is that most of the bigger pile of Impressionist, post impressionist and German expressionist art was taken to Russia in some idea that it would "repay for the destruction " to the Russian homeland.

On a good note, the Beckmann , which started the inquiry, hqd its proceeds be split among the heirs of the original owners (it brought about 800K euros)

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 06:20 am
The gentleman to whom i referred implied, without stating, that the motive of the police sitting on this case was a desire to avoid, on behalf of the government (and he just said Germany, in general, not referring to Bavaria), paying compensation.

Sorry about how long it took to respond, but i'm having the same bullsh*t log-in problems i've had for over a year now, and which administration denies exist. I'll be leaving here for a while today to preserve my eyesight and my temper.
saab
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 06:44 am
Good information here:
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/nov/05/picasso-matisse-nazi-art-munich
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 06:45 am
@Setanta,
I can't say I've observed any access problems from here accessing A2K. Perhaps something is going on with your ISP and A2K?
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 08:16 am
I can't wait to see what they've found....
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 08:20 am
I liked this article, written by the same Guardian author, Philip Oltermann, but a day earlier, as background for the situation -

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/04/nazi-art-hoard-munich-recluse-cornelius-gurlitt
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 08:49 am
I'm watching the 'legit news resources' intently.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 09:08 am
If we're linking to articles in the Grauniad, this was in yesterday's G2 section.

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/nov/04/munich-hoard-lost-art-Nazis
Foofie
 
  0  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 12:00 pm
Since it was so long ago, and might be quite difficult to assign specific art to specific families, it could be handled in a different way, perhaps offering the state of Israel a few more submarines for the "deed" to these works of art, for a German museum? A win-win situation?

Considering, family jewels were sometimes used to gain passage out of Nazi Germany, these art "jewels" could be used to gain a greater defense deterrent for Israel, since that nation might be all that is left of some of those families?
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 02:11 pm
@saab,
Seems the NYT story was quite premature , even though this story is over a year old (and not two as the Times said yesterday).

Was there anything else about Gurlitts father who, while reportedly being 1/4 Jewish "Blood" hd retained some official art Bursar duties for the Reich's "Sonnderauftrag Linz"
I did my BFA thesis on Sonnderauftrag with respect to the hundreds of "FAke" art that were sold to the Nazi by a number of forgers like Wacker (who forged van Gogh) and van Meegeren, who sold Goering at least 3 works that were fake VERMEER's
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 02:13 pm
@izzythepush,
your article wasnt there Izzmae
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 03:10 pm
@farmerman,
You're right, I'll post another link, but here it is anyway.

Quote:
It is one of the most shuddered-at chapters in the story of art. In July 1937, Nazi officials turned up in full uniform alongside evening-suited cultural eminences of the Third Reich at an art gallery in Munich for the opening of the Exhibition of Degenerate Art. They came not to praise modern art, but to laugh at it.

Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Georg Grosz, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – the masters of modernism, including giants of Germany's own avant garde, were shown in this exhibition as deviant, decadent practitioners of so-called Degenerate Art – "Entartete Kunst". Sections of the show had titles such as "Total Madness", "The Prostitute Raised to a Moral Ideal", "The Negroisation of Art". Modern art was interpreted in the catalogue as a conspiracy by Russian Bolsheviks and Jewish dealers to destroy European culture. The admiration for African carvings that had so fired Picasso and other artists was taken as proof of modern art's racial degeneracy.

Vile stuff – but the Nazi attitude to modern art may have been radically misunderstood. An amazing discovery in 21st-century Munich turns the story of art and the Nazis on its head.

Cornelius Gurlitt's flat looks meagre in photographs. It is located in an apartment block in Munich that, from the outside, appears to have seen better days. Yet in that flat lay secrets of the Third Reich only now accidentally uncovered. Intrigued by Gurlitt's lack of German identity documents and odd behaviour while crossing the border on a trip to Switzerland, police raided his home and found a hoard of more than 1,500 works of art including pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, Paul Klee, Emil Nolde, Franz Marc, Otto Dix and Oskar Kokoschka. The understandably reclusive Gurlitt turned out to be the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, an art dealer who played a key role in the Nazi roundup of "degenerate art". Although half-Jewish, and the cousin of the "degenerate" composer Manfred Gurlitt, the Nazis considered him a useful expert. This is not just any haul of stolen goods: it may turn out to be one the most important recoveries of lost art ever. For it takes us to the heart of the cultural policies and crimes of the Third Reich.

It raises massive questions about the fate of art in and after the second world war. As the allies entered Germany in the last phase of the war they took with them experts, nicknamed the "monuments men", whose job was to find out where the Nazis had stashed looted works of art. For it was not just modern art the Nazis abused. All over Europe, they seized the best masterpieces from the finest museums. Many of these, including such treasures as Titian's Danae and Van Eyck's Ghent altarpiece, were found stashed in mountain tunnels and mines. Others, including many of the works of art shown in the Degenerate Art exhibit, are believed lost for ever. Paintings such as Van Gogh's The Painter on his Way to Work and 14 masterpieces by Gustav Klimt are written off as destroyed. But is it possible a Nazi network preserved a secret world of stolen art after 1945? Is it even possible such art was used to fund neo-Nazi activities or maintain war criminals in quiet comfort?

To put it another way: were Hildebrand Gurlitt and his son unique, or is the find in Munich a clue to some larger network of Nazi art hoarders sitting on secret treasures all this time in postwar Europe, living off occasional covert sales of the Picassos that they keep among the canned foods in their anonymous flats?

One thing is certain: this story comes from the dark heart of Nazi Europe. Munich was Hitler's art capital. As a young man, famously, he wanted to be an artist. He wasted an inheritance trying to get an art education in Vienna. While Klimt was creating modern art there, Hitler was going to the opera to hear Wagner (conducted by the modernist Gustav Mahler), and soon eking a living painting drab topographic scenes. Eventually he left for Munich, where he survived as a hack painter of typical German scenery until the first world war gave him a new life as a soldier. Hitler loved Munich, and when he came to power lavished money on its art scene. The city's expressionist painters were in trouble. But while Degenerate Art pilloried them, in 1938 Hitler opened a huge exhibition of "proper" German art at the newly built House of German Art, a grand neo-classical temple to the art of a new, fascist Europe. Where the year before thousands had flocked to see the art they were told to hate, far fewer went to see Nazi-favoured art.

This is where the cliches start. It is conventional to contrast the avant-garde art the Nazis maligned with the traditionalism and conservatism of the art they admired. But the National Socialist nightmare was not "conservative". It was, in its own way, horribly modern – it imagined a different, perverted vision of modernity. The House of German Art still survives in Munich. Today it is used as an alternative arts centre. Video and installation look subversively great in its grand icy halls. You wouldn't call these rooms old-fashioned. Rather they have a chilly neo-classical hauteur that speaks of sublime ambition. This is the neo-classical modern art of Nazism that can still be seen in Leni Riefenstahl's terrifying films – some of the most disturbingly beautiful ever made – and the designs of Hitler's architects Paul Troost and Albert Speer.

Hitler did not hate art – he loved it. Other leading Nazis just saw it as money. Goering, greedy and corrupt, amassed art because it symbolised wealth and power. Munich was at the centre of the regime's cultural pretensions. The Gurlitt hoard is a survival of the Nazis' strange and ambivalent attitude to art, from Hitler's aesthetic New Order to the simple philistine greed that probably motivated most of their art theft.

Gurlitt's cache reveals that many assumptions about the Nazis and art are simply untrue. The Degenerate Art exhibition was real enough – but did it really mean the Nazis hated modern art? It is because we take this for granted that no one has been searching for lost "degenerate" works such as those in the flat in Munich. Some works from the Entartete Kunst exhibition, many seized from once-progressive German museums, were sold abroad afterwards. Others have vanished. As the war began and Nazi racial policies became ever more explicit, more modern and pre-modern works were seized or bought for a pittance from Jewish owners. Much was destroyed. Or was it?
One of the most suspicious cases is that of Klimt's lost works. Fourteen paintings by this Austrian visionary of dreams and desire were stored in an Austrian castle during the war. In 1945, an SS battalion reportedly held an orgy there before setting the castle alight. The Klimts are presumed lost, but there were rumours that some might have been spirited away. Now, surely, such stories need to be re-examined. The 1,500 works hidden by the Gurlitts, father and son, were also presumed lost.

The allies tend to blame themselves for art lost in Germany in the 1940s. Almost every major German city was bombed by Britain and the US during the second world war. Firestorms ravaged museums and art stores as well as killing thousands of civilians. "Bomber" Harris, Britain's Bomber Command mastermind who insisted this was the way to win the war, was apparently responsible for burning paintings such as Van Gogh's Painter on the Way to Work and Caravaggio's first version of St Matthew, as well as his portrait of a courtesan.

Perhaps the single most significant fact that has so far come out about Hildebrand Gurlitt is that he claimed his collection of looted art was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden. So it was the allies who burned it. If he lied so easily about that, what about other Nazi-owned art that supposedly vanished in wartime air raids?

The massive destruction the Nazis brought down on Germany created chaos in 1945. As the "monuments men" were seeking out stolen art treasures in Alpine mines, it seems Gurlitt was carefully and quietly preserving his personal hoard.

The reason he got away with it is that he had grabbed so many modernist works. Ever since 1937, it has been assumed that "degenerate art" was either sold abroad or destroyed. The "monuments men" went searching for Titians, not Picassos. But the Munich hoard proves the naivety of this assumption. Even in the mind of Hitler, modern art was bizarrely fascinating. You do not put on an exhibition of something you do not want to look at. In some strange way the Nazis needed modern art, as a demonic image of their nightmares. The Degenerate Art exhibition is, after all, the biggest backhanded compliment ever paid to the avant garde. Many people think art has no influence on the world. Hitler knew it did. The old saw that he hated modernism is just too simple. He loved to hate it. What you love to hate, you want to keep, somewhere, if only as a freakshow curiosity.

Other Nazis simply went along with Hitler's taste in public but did not really know what the would-be artist in him was talking about. In Mussolini's Italy, the Futurist movement was cosy with fascism. There was no reason – Italy proved – that fascists needed to spurn modernism. Some German modern artists, notably Nolde, were themselves sympathetic to the far right.

Then there was greed. In the end, the National Socialists were thugs, criminals and murderers. The idea that most of them believed deeply in ideological discriminations about art is not that plausible. For men like Gurlitt, modern art made a good stash. He and his son sat on the hoard while his claim that it was lost in a firestorm was taken at face value.

Now the books on Nazi loot need to be reopened. It seems only too possible that other Gurlitts hid away other art treasures in the chaos of defeat.

In one of the last photographs ever taken of Adolf Hitler he is in the bunker in Berlin contemplating Albert Speer's design for a new art capital to be built at Linz. Much as he loved Munich, this city was closer to his childhood home. Its massive new museum was to have contained all the art treasures of conquered Europe.

While Hitler doted on his cultural fantasies, paintings were vanishing into fruit cellars and attics. It was so easy to write them off in the Führer's Götterdämmerung.


http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/nov/04/munich-hoard-lost-art-nazis
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 04:19 pm
@izzythepush,
Excellent. I knew about the destruction of the Klimts and was always saddened by the loss of so many of this "mannerist modern".

How art movements start as disparaging titles like the" Impressionists", or "The Wild Beasts" Ashcan artists", "Outsider artists" and, of course, the Degenerates.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 04:32 pm
@farmerman,
I'd not thought of that before, but you're right.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2013 04:41 pm
@izzythepush,
I always liked the GC Max painting "monkeys, the art critics".

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e8/Gabriel_Cornelius_von_Max%2C_1840-1915%2C_Monkeys_as_Judges_of_Art%2C_1889.jpg/767px-Gabriel_Cornelius_von_Max%2C_1840-1915%2C_Monkeys_as_Judges_of_Art%2C_1889.jpg

Cubism was a derogatory term , and today we have OTAKU for "anime lovers"
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2013 05:22 am
@izzythepush,
Maybe Walter will check in with some views from his end as well.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2013 05:29 am
@farmerman,
From what I've heard it's all very confusing, some of the pieces are supposed to have been obtained legitimately in auctions before and after the war. Ownership will be a devil to sort out.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2013 05:37 am
@izzythepush,
I saw that. Apparently there were a Durer and another one that were actually de-accessioned by some gallery during the war. Still 1500 works.
Its actually a bit comforting to know that the Nazis kept pretty good records on everything, maybe there will be some obsessive paper trail.
 

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