In March 2012, German authorities discovered over 1,200 artworks, many of which are suspected of having been looted by the Nazis, in the apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of Nazi-associated art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt. However, the discovery was not made public until a German magazine broke the story in November 2013. About 250 additional works were subsequently found in two additional Gurlitt family residences in Austria. Artworks that potentially have a suspicious Nazi-era provenance are listed on the German Lost Art website. This includes 464 objects of the Munich art trove, 33 estate objects, as well as one other item (“Suitcase finding”).
In November 2013, the German Government founded the Schwabing Art Trove Task Force (Schwabinger Kunstfund) under the leadership of Dr. Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel. The Claims Conference was represented in the Task Force by two art experts, Agnes Peresztegi and Sophie Lillie. In December 2015, the Taskforce Schwabinger Kunstfund concluded its work as planned and published its final report. The final report includes a fact sheet (also available in English): Overall 1,258 artworks were part of Gurlitt’s collection, which included the 1,224 artworks seized in his apartment, as well as 34 artworks which were entrusted to the Taskforce after Gurlitt’s death. 507 were found not be Nazi-looted, while 499 artworks are possible Nazi looted art. Overall, the Taskforce received 200 inquiries: 4 claims were successfully resolved and the Nazi-looted loss was confirmed. In one other case, a Nazi-loss was confirmed without the receipt of an application. The final reports in these five cases are available on the German Lost Art website. The Claims Conference’s Cultural Plunder by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR): Database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume is cited in many of these cases.
In January 2016, the German Lost Art Foundation launched a new project entitled “Gurlitt Provenance Research” which aims to continue the work of the Taskforce. In 2016, 600 artworks were successively researched, 46 of which had been pre-classified by the Taskforce, and 472 reports were prepared. 152 artworks are currently considered as having likely been looted. An other 19 artworks are currently categorized as “degenerate art.” As of 24 March 2017, some 374 works were undergoing further investigation by experts.
The project is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media until the end of 2017.