Art collector in huge German find in talks with 6 claimants
Photo provided by the Augsburg, southern Germany, prosecution Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 shows a painting 'Reiter am Strand' ('Riders at the Beach') by German artist Max Liebermann from 1901 that was among the more than 1400 art works that were seized by German authorities in an apartment in Munich in February 2012. (AP / Staatsanwaltschaft Augsburg)
The Associated Press
Published Monday, February 17, 2014 8:55AM EST
BERLIN -- A lawyer for the elderly art collector whose works were seized by German police two years ago said Monday that he is in negotiations with six claimants who are seeking items stolen from them or their families by the Nazis.
Hannes Hartung, who represents Cornelius Gurlitt, said the claims cover 3 per cent of the more than 1,400 works authorities confiscated from the collector's Munich apartment in 2012 -- or about 40 pieces.
Gurlitt's representatives encouraged further potential claimants to submit their claims through a newly created website. His spokesman, Stephan Holzinger, said the site was meant to "make clear anew our readiness for dialogue -- toward the public and toward possible claimants."
Hartung said in a statement that Gurlitt's case was being treated more harshly than those of other public and private collections in Germany, which may also be in possession of stolen art.
The new website also features a personal statement from Gurlitt, in which he said: "I only wanted to live with my pictures, in peace and calm." He complained that some of what has been written about him and the collection is untrue or not entirely true.
The works in Munich were seized by authorities investigating a tax case in 2012. Officials kept the find secret until it was publicized by a German magazine in early November. They are checking whether 458 of the pieces were seized by the Nazis, but plan to return works belonging indisputably to Gurlitt.