Thefts News Germany

Matisse painting in Gurlitt hoard was Nazi loot, researchers find

Task force confirms Femme Assise was stolen from the dealer Paul Rosenberg during the Second World War

Femme Assise by Henri Matisse

The 1921 painting Femme Assise (seated woman) by Henri Matisse, which was discovered in the Munich apartment of the late art collector Cornelius Gurlitt, has been deemed to be Nazi loot. According to the scholarly task force investigating Gurlitt’s cache of art, the work was stolen from the collection of the Paris-based Modern art dealer and collector Paul Rosenberg.

Ingeborg Berggreen Merkel, the head of the task force, said in a press statement released today: “Even though it could not be documented with absolute certainty how the work came into [Cornelius Gurlitt’s father] Hildebrand Gurlitt’s possession, the task force has concluded that the work is Nazi loot and was taken from its rightful owner Paul Rosenberg.” Merkel added that the final decision on what will happen to the painting “lies in the hands of the heirs of Cornelius Gurlitt, who, shortly before his death, committed himself to returning looted works in line with the Washington Principles. This commitment also binds his heirs”.

Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was commissioned by the Nazis to sell the art that they confiscated. He assembled a collection of more than 1,400 works that he left his son Cornelius. The collection came to light in 2012 after a routine tax investigation, making headlines around the world and raising questions about how many of the works had been stolen. The 81-year-old Gurlitt died in May this year, bequeathing his collection to the Kunstmuseum in Bern. The museum has not yet accepted the inheritance.

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