Nazi-era art dealer’s treasure trove debuts in Europe

Nazi-era art dealer’s treasure trove debuts in Europe

It’s an art collection like no other because it’s collected like no other.

Hundreds of pieces of art are now on display from a spectacular stash that was once hoarded by the son of a Nazi-era dealer. The artworks, including masterpieces by Monet and Rodin, are being shown for the first time since World War II this year as part of parallel exhibitions in Switzerland and Germany.

All of the exhibits were seized by the Nazis during World War II in a methodical program directed by German dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt. He led the task of poaching art from Jewish families and selling art defamed as “degenerate” overseas.

It’s a display that now sheds light on the darkest chapters of Nazi Germany, says art director Nina Zimmer.

“How they persecuted artists and art they did not like and how they did this systematically,” Zimmer says.

The works may never have been stumbled upon during a routine tax investigation at a nondescript address in Munich.

Hildebrand’s reclusive son, Cornelius Gurlitt, had hidden away a trove. The priceless Rodin sitting near a potted plant and the monet hanging on a wall.

The Rodin found in Munich
The exhibition has raised morale and ethical issues over the art’s true provenance and inspections.

Project director Andrea Baresel-Brand says that the shows can act as something of a lost and found.

“Through the broad media coverage of the exhibitions of course a wider public is reached and maybe somebody recognizes something,” Baresel-Brand says.

Even conservative estimates of the collections have been reunited with their rightful owners.