Nazi-era art hoard makes German exhibition debut in Bonn

BERLIN (Reuters) - Some 250 art works from a huge trove hoarded by a collector during the Nazi era went on display in Germany for the first time on Thursday, as its curators pursue efforts to find the rightful owners of pieces identified as looted.

German art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt built up the collection after being enlisted by the Nazis to sell modern art they had seized from German museums and collectors and labeled “degenerate”.

His son Cornelius inherited the collection, which includes works by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse as well as older masterpieces, and kept it in his Munich apartment for decades.

Gurlitt bequeathed the 1,500 works to Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Bern, which inherited them after his death in May 2014.

The collection is now being displayed simultaneously in Bern and in Germany’s former capital Bonn, with part of the latter exhibition focusing on works stolen from individual collectors.

The display at the German Federal Gallery includes works by Claude Monet, Max Beckmann, Albrecht Duerer and Pieter Brueghel, whose works are presented alongside biographies of people from whom the Nazis stole art.

At least two works on display have been confirmed as looted and attempts to identify their original owners are ongoing.

“In total, there are six which were clearly identified as looted art. Many works are still being investigated and they might also turn out to be looted,” Rein Wolfs, the exhibition curator, told Reuters Television.

Germany’s Culture Minister Monika Guetters said the government had allocated 6.5 million euros ($7.6 million) to researching the original owners’ identities.

Reporting By Riham Alkousaa and Reuters TV; editing by John Stonestreet