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Artworks Worth $1.6 Billion, Stolen by Nazis, Discovered in German Apartment

November 3, 2013 3:43 pm 41 comments

Nazis posing with art in Venice, Italy. Photo: Wikipedia.

Art masterpieces seized by the Nazis and thought to have been destroyed in British bombing raids on Germany during WW2 have been found behind rotting food in a loner’s modest apartment near Munich, Germany’s Focus Magazine reported Sunday.

The collection, which includes works by Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and Marc Chagall, among many others, has an estimated worth of $1.6 billion.

The artworks, confiscated and deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis, who showed them at an exhibit in 1937, were put in the care of Hildebrandt Gurlitt, who, as a well known art dealer in Germany at the time, was tasked with selling them off for cash by Joseph Goebbels.

Gurlitt, however, seems to have kept many for his own personal collection, despite having reported the artworks destroyed during the bombing of Dresden.

Then in September 2010 customs agents carried out a routine check on a train from Switzerland. Stopping Gurlitt’s sole surviving sonCornelius – they became suspicious when they discovered he had an envelope containing 9,000 euros in cash. He was also not registered with the police – mandatory in Germany – the tax authorities or social services and was, as one official said, “a man who didn’t exist.”

Officials then issued a search warrant for his 800-euro-a-month rented flat in the Munich suburb of Schwabing. It was entered in the spring of 2011 and the paintings were discovered.

Customs initially slapped a ban on information about the raid, which is why the story is only coming to light now.

A customs spokesman said: “We went into the apartment expecting to find a few thousand undeclared euros, maybe a black bank account.

“But we were stunned with what we found. From floor to ceiling, from bedroom to bathroom, were piles and piles of old food in tins and old noodles, much of it from the 80’s.

“And behind it all these pictures worth tens, hundreds of millions of euros.”

Focus reported that investigators later found a bank savings book that showed he’d made more than a half-million euros through sales of the artwork over the years.

Gurlitt faces jail for tax evasion and money laundering, but many of the paintings could be returned to him if their rightful heirs are not found.


  • If the rightful owners can’t be found,all those art works should go to Israel to be included and shown in an art museum because they were stolen by the Nazis from from European Jews.

    • If the art work was from Germans .And found in Israel would Israel send the art back to Germany. No way.

  • Isn’t it interesting that anti-Semites like this “Tom” fellow always give the Jewish people so much power in their heads? There’s the killing of Jesus, even though the Jews were nothing much more than slaves to the Romans (and even though he needed to die according to that faith). They say we own everything, that we believe we’re entitled to everything, that we are all cheap; the list of accusations hurled at the Jewish people is endless. Yet, according to the Jewish faith, we are commanded to be generous, and we are commanded to do our part in repairing the world. People like “Tom” are so filled with ignorance and hatred that they know nothing of what it means to us to be Jewish. They don’t care that my relative were shot in the heads into their own hand-dug shallow graves. We’ve been among the smallest minority and now we are the smallest minority, and yet we are still scapegoats for just about everything. They say the Jewish people have all the power. They’re the people giving us all of this so-called power we didn’t know we had!

  • that jerk tom,doesnt know history,what the germans did,they killed many catholics,preists,& many,many american soldiers,maybe even his antisemetic relatives.i lived there & escaped in 1939.yes the jewish people were rich .my father had a chauffer,he made a lot of money for germany.they were doctors ,lawyers bankers etc etc,just like here ,eat your heart out,you poor bastard,your probally on welfare thats why u r jeolous. yes they killed 6 million jews & replaced them with 20 million muslims that are raping europe a great can kiss my jewish ass.GG

  • He should be shot in the head.

  • Lady Justice has not only closed her eyes in America but worldwide.

  • ”In this case if the owner cannot prove legal ownership, he should be charged criminally for being in possession of suspected stolen property, and thereafter the paintings should be confiscated by the state.

    • Actually, if it can be proven that Josef Gobbels was involved in the original action, the action, committed by the father, constitutes a war crime (at least as a conspirator with the Nazis). As for the son,since it appears that he knew that the paintings were seized by the Nazis, he would also be considered part of the original conspiracy, despite his acting s a “fence” for stolen property. Since he was caught with the stolen goods after he crossed the border into another country, the charge of international transportation of stolen goods.

      As for income tax evasion, the FBI sent Al Capone to prison on that charge.

      In any case, he can be described in the same terms as Hermann Goring and Joseph Gobbels: “Ambiition without a conscience.”

  • As someone closely involved in the exhibitions of Orphaned Art held at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Israel Museum (I translated the catalogues so I am very familiar with the exhibits) I am appalled that the paintings might be returned to this thief. Whether these paintings were part of the “Entartete Kunst” (Degenerate Art) exhibition or whether they were simply sold to this dealer in the forced sales which Jews were forced to make, or whether they were part of the systematic spoliation of the Jews by the Nazis, the last place the paintings should be allowed to remain is in the possession of this crook, who has already begun to sell them off. I hope the restitution authorities the Claims Conference and everyone else will step in to ensure that the paintings at least go to Jewish museums, their original owners no doubt having been murdered.

  • Victoria D Matlock

    this was a sad day when one stole from another person

  • Tom is trying to say the germans suffered under the jewish people and so they had a right to steal their paintings. He sounds like he’s in denial. read history and find out the true story. The germans murdered the jews.

  • Stop it.
    Don’t you know that there is a cadre of devoted ( really moved by the best motives) volunteer Jewish communal workers and associated professionals who will not let H. Cornelius OffTheBooks, have the art back? And even if the voluntarism are not allowed, do you really think the Jewish communal leadership will let a billion and a half dollars slip between their fingers? Although the Jewish communal leadership is as corrupt as can be imagined.
    When leadership collects the money and PAYS IT ALL directly to survivors only, and not to organizations deemed to care for them (and which don’t) then will we know they are not corrupt.

  • jacob mandelblum

    I wish of the piece of…work who signed TOM, all the “blessings” of Psalm 109 on him and all his loved ones..

    To this day, the only usurers are still the Jews, as
    according to this turd, these works of art were taken from
    their Aryan owners by Jewish landlords in payment for rent
    But this solution of returning it to the thief if no legal
    heirs appear to claim it….
    In the seat of the ICJ, Holland, Jewish properties were not returned to their legal owners because they were acquired in good faith by their present owners….

  • whoever Tom is —he is the sort of Nazi that is supposed to be extinct
    Unfortunately there is no evidence that this disgusting prejudice is latent and only awaits the spark of a Hitler to resurface

  • Well if they cannot find the rightful owners then maybe the works should go to a Jewish museum.

    • The sadness is the art work confiscated by the Nazis were probably stolen by the German Jews from those who could not pay their rents to Jewish landlords or paid with blood money before and during the war.
      Think about what you say – You are too young to know how the German people suffered under the hands of the Jewish aristocratic type Bankers and money lenders.

      • I’m not too young to know that you’re an idiot. Poor people who couldn’t afford their rent could afford million of dollars worth of paintings? Why would anyone be stupid enough to come on a Jewish web site to spew Nazi nonsense like this? Dementia?

      • tom
        your comment is absolutely obviously have an ax to grind against Jews but you will have to come up with a better lie then this one.

      • Michael Garfinkel

        So, here we have “Tom”, an old style Nazi, waxing nostalgic for the ancient calumnies of the twenties and thirties – a true shameless idiot.

      • You live inn the fantasy world of Nazi apologists and anti Semites. How general contempt for the Nazis and the existence of Israel must eat at your psyche.

      • Are you kidding me? The German people suffered at the hands of the Jews? You sir have serious delusions of what happened before/during/after WWII in Germany. Who was taken out of THEIR homes and then either beaten and shot in the streets or taken to the most despicable place imaginable? Who turned them in and then looted their houses? Germans didn’t suffer at the hands of Jews, Jews and others suffered at THE HANDS OF THE GERMANS, POLISH, HUNGARIANS, ITALIANS, FRENCH, AND RUSSIANS. You are a twisted and sick individual if you think Jews are all rich and in control of all the world. Read a historical book, watch a few news reels. Most Jews are either middle class or lower. WE DONT control banks or anything else. Unbelievable that you are serious ignorant!

      • William Moskowitz

        Next you will tell me that the blood of the millions of Jews murdered by the nazis was stolen to make Matza on Passover!

      • Oh, yeah. The Germans suffered under the Jews.

      • A genuine Nazi, that is what you are. What are you doing on a Jewish blog? How dare you! Propogating Hitler’s big lie? You should be serving a life sentence,not spilling your vitriolic lies. Germans did not suffer from the Jews, the country was paranoid, dating back centuries, of ‘The Jew.’ German Jews were mainly patriots, who put Germany ahead of being Jewish, but that did not stop vermin like you from turning the hate into genocide. May G-d damn you, evil scum.

      • Pictures stolen by jewish landlords from tenants who couldn’t pay the rent?*
        You forgot to add how the jewish landlords also stole their tenants’ babies to use their blood on Passover.

        *A tenant with a Picasso on the wall can normally afford the rent, no?

      • Your comment reveals a sick, warped and evil mindset.
        So, you think that Jews cannot own artworks by their own honest endeavours.

      • Tom, you are disgraceful!

    • Victoria D Matlock

      all works should go to the Jewish people of Israel to be put where thy see fit

    • Why do everyone think all stolen art works during WWII belong to jewish citizens, what about all the murdered descendents of chalemagne and their children, it was not just jewish citizens that were tageted by nazis, it was the rich royals, counts, barons and so forth who opposed hitler, who were the first to be murdered for their bravery and so hitler could get his hands on their money, that included their art works. That is not to say that some paintings do not also belong to jewish citizen’s but to think that all should go to one race, is arrogant.

  • I marvel at the industry of denials & convenient forgetfulness. To think the Jewish people have been robbed of every vestige before being murdered it still an amazing mantra to hear if something found. The authorities have to find the rightful owners to return the stolen goods if not it goes back to thieves. What a perverse logic.

  • Otto Waldmann in Sydney

    A.H., yimakh shemo, knew what he was saying abt the one thousand year nazi spirit in the german !

  • We should not have dropped the A-bombs on Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and they should have told the Russians to stay out of Germany, and dropped the A-bombs on Berlin, and Munich. The millionaire grandchildren of the Nazis in Argentina and Brazil are laughing at the Jews. History demands justice, even if it is over 70 years late.

  • Dantebenedetti

    “Returned to him(!) if the owners can’t be found”???
    Of all the stupid, immoral, unjust solutions, this has to be one of the
    worst; returning the art to the nazi thief who stole it!!!! If the owners/heirs
    can’t be found, give the art to Israel.

  • I think the German government should take possession of the art works until the legal owners are found.

  • Chaim Pinczewski

    These paintings are stolen goods and if the owners are not located they rightfully belong to the Jewish people
    and survivors as a group. There is no way that we should allow the perpetrators of this crime to gain from their crime.

  • It should not be too difficult to identify the original owners of the paintings. The surviving heirs are entitled to have their families’ legacy returned to them. If there are no survivors, the work should be given to the state of Israel . . . And put on display.

  • 21st century German law invests title to stolen artifacts, when the heirs of their rightful owners have all been murdered by the state, to the murderous thieves’ heirs?

    It appears Hitler’s Third Reich has survived quite well.

  • that last sentence is the most unbelievable part of the story, say it isn’t so!

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