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German authorities announced that they would return a number of paintings to Cornelius Gurlitt, a recluse accused of hoarding hundreds of masterpieces stolen by the Nazis. Reinhard Nemetz, The chief prosecutor who is handling Gurlitt’s case, acknowledged that several of the works confiscated from Gurlitt's home clearly belonged to him. A task force was appointed to identify such paintings as soon as possible. Authorities stated that out of the 1,406 paintings, sketches and prints found in Gurlitt’s home, about 970 were suspected of being looted from Jewish families or taken from museums during World War II.

Gurlitt is the son of the art dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt, who reportedly aquired the art trove in the late 1930s and 1940s. Hildebrandt Gurlitt had been put in charge of selling the stolen artworks abroad by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, but secretly hoarded many of them and later claimed that they were destroyed in the bombing of Dresden. Cornelius Gurlitt, who is unemployed, sold a number of the paintings over the years and lived off of the profits.

Determining the provenance of works by such luminaries as Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir is expected to be a lengthy process, especially since Gurlitt is determined not to give up the artworks without a fight. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, “I will not give anything back voluntarily.”

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