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Monday, 30 December 2013 17:51

Nazi-Looted Artworks Found in German Parliament

An art historian is claiming that two artworks residing inside Germany’s parliament were stolen from their rightful owners by Nazis during World War II. The shocking discovery ran in an article in Bild newspaper on Monday, December 30.

The historian’s investigation into the German parliament’s art collection began in 2012 and determined that an oil painting by Georg Waltenberger and a chalk lithograph by Lovis Corinth had been stolen by Nazis. One of the works was acquired by the parliament from Cornelius Gurlitt, a recluse who was recently accused of hoarding hundreds of masterpieces stolen by Nazis. Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrandt, had been put in charge of selling the stolen artworks by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, but secretly hoarded many of them. 

The parliament’s art collection is comprised of nearly 4,000 works and according to investigations, 108 of those pieces are of unknown provenance. The Central Council of Jews in Germany has called for a list of the parliament’s artworks to be published.

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A vintage print of a photograph by Edvard Munch (1863-1944), which is now in the collection of the Munch Museum in Oslo, might be headed to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. One of an edition of five, the photograph shows Munch in his garden around 1930. The work was part of the collection that Munch bequeathed to the city of Oslo.

Last month, the city’s government asked Oslo’s parliament to approve the deaccession of the photograph so that it could be sold to a major international institution and made more accessible to the public. In response to the proposal, a member of Parliament pointed out that the deaccession is in contrast to Munch’s will that states that his works should be kept together. While a long-term loan is a possibility, city officials are asking Parliament to vote on the Munch sale.

The Centre Pompidou has offered nearly $50,000 for the print. The Oslo government expects a decision to be made in 2013.

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