• Germany edition
 
German recluse wants to keep Nazi-looted art trove
Photo: DPA

German recluse wants to keep Nazi-looted art trove

Published: 17 Nov 2013 11:02 GMT+01:00

Gurlitt, 80, told Der Spiegel news weekly in an interview that his father, a powerful Nazi-era art dealer, had acquired the priceless works legally and that he as his heir sees himself as their rightful owner.

"I will not give anything back voluntarily," he told a reporter who said she spent 72 hours with the eccentric loner last week.

"I hope this gets resolved soon and I finally get my pictures back."

Gurlitt, who suffers from a heart condition, said he had given state prosecutors investigating him on charges of tax evasion and misappropriation of assets "enough" documents to prove his innocence.

He said he was shocked by all the unwanted attention, including photographers besieging him outside his home and while grocery shopping.

"I am not Boris Becker, what do these people want from me?"  he said, referring to the German former tennis great.

"I just wanted to live with my paintings."

CLICK HERE to see some of the paintings

Gurlitt is the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, one of a handful of dealers tasked by the Nazis with selling confiscated, looted and extorted works in exchange for hard currency. 

While he sold many of the works, he kept a vast trove for himself. Most of the collection was believed lost or destroyed but surfaced during a routine customs investigation at Gurlitt's flat in February 2012.

They are currently in storage at a secret location.

But German authorities kept the case under wraps, arguing that they did not want to set off a deluge of fraudulent ownership claims for hoard, which includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Renoir and Delacroix.

Jewish families and museums which have come forward to say that paintings in the collection were taken from them more than 60 years ago have criticised the fact that it took a German magazine, Focus weekly, to bring the spectacular find to light this month.

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Bundestag passes debt-free budget for 2015
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble fulfills a promise. Photo: DPA

Bundestag passes debt-free budget for 2015

Germany signed off Friday on its 2015 draft budget, which foresees a balanced bottom line for the country's public finances for the first time since 1969. READ  

So much more than chocolate
Decisions, decisions. Photo: DPA

So much more than chocolate

What's not to like about opening a little paper door every day to get a piece of chocolate only for it all to lead to a day when we all eat a lot of everything? READ  

Fare dodging could cost more in 2015
Riding the Stuttgart tram with a properly validated ticket. Photo: DPA

Fare dodging could cost more in 2015

States are pushing the government to increase fines for people using public transport without a ticket from next year. READ  

Expat Dispatches
Discovering German identity from abroad
Photo courtesy Julia Reichel

Discovering German identity from abroad

German student living in Canada Julia Reichel turns our Expat Dispatches around this week as she learns that being German outside Germany isn't so bad. READ  

BND spied on Germans living abroad
The hearing room of the NSA inquiry committee at the Bundestag. Photo: DPA

BND spied on Germans living abroad

The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence service, spied on some citizens living abroad, a former lawyer for the spies told MPs on Thursday. READ  

Negotiations restart between GDL and Bahn
Just what is this man thinking today? Rail services depend on it. Photo: DPA

Negotiations restart between GDL and Bahn

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and the train drivers union (GDL) are bellying up to the bargaining table again on Friday, though the head of the GDL won't rule out more strikes. READ  

Beckenbauer targeted in Fifa ethics inquiry
Is the Kaiser tarnished? Photo: DPA

Beckenbauer targeted in Fifa ethics inquiry

German football hero Franz Beckenbauer has been named as one of five Fifa executive committee members being investigated for possible corruption by the football association's ethics board, it was reported on Thursday. READ  

Economists urge reform for Germany, France
Photo: DPA

Economists urge reform for Germany, France

A top level economic report on Thursday urged European heavyweights France and Germany to implement urgent economic reforms, warning that Europe risked falling into a "stagnation trap". READ  

Bavaria plans free wifi for 'whole state'
Soon you'll be able to tweet from the top of Neuschwanstein. Photo: DPA

Bavaria plans free wifi for 'whole state'

Finance minister Christian Söder wants to drag Bavaria online with an ambitious plan for far-ranging public internet access by 2020. READ  

Ebola-ready jet prepared for take off
Steinmeier takes a tour. Photo: DPA

Ebola-ready jet prepared for take off

Come take a tour of special medical evacuation jet the Robert Koch, which is designed to transport patients with Ebola and was unveiled on Thursday at Berlin's Tegel Airport. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Top five tacky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Sponsored Article
Ever wanted to try out home exchange?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Want to study in Germany? These are the subjects to choose
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,229
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd