Friday, 9 May 2014

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Cornelius Gurlitt, son of art historian and dealer, Hildebrand Gurlitt, defamed for exhibiting so-called “degenerate” works in the 1920s, who hoarded a gallery’s worth of unknown paintings of unknown provenance in a small apartment in München, passed away following heart surgery a month after Gurlitt agreed to aid German customs authorities in determining which works might be stolen and help them locate the rightful heirs in exchange for the return of his collection—at least pending the outcome of the investigation. Unexpectedly, Gurlitt bequeathed this trove, including art by Chagall, Picasso, Monet, Delacroix, Dürer and Matisse, to the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern. The museum directors were rather gob-smacked with the news—as Gurlitt had no known association with the place, and disposition is to be determined, although the Bern collection already bears some affinity to Gurlitt’s own, including Paul Klee and Cézanne.