Monet discovered among art hoard collected during Nazi era

vue de sainte-adresse

A German art collector who came about his works partly through his father’s questionable dealings during World War II managed to smuggle a Monet with him into a hospital where he was admitted earlier this year.

The hospital sent the suitcase containing the work by the famed French Impressionist to the executor of Cornelius Gurlitt’s estate on Sept. 2 after having kept it in storage for several months following Gurlitt’s death, according to The Art Newspaper.

Gurlitt had some 1,400 paintings, drawings and sketches – believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and including masterpieces by Picasso and Chagall – in his apartment in Munich for decades.

During the Nazi era, Gurlitt’s father Hildebrand was tasked with selling works taken or bought under duress from Jewish families, and avant-garde art seized from German museums that the Hitler regime deemed “degenerate,” according to Agence France-Presse.

In the final days of World War II, Hildebrand Gurlitt had loaded his family and the artworks into a truck to flee Allied bombing, ending up at a baron’s castle in Bavaria, according to the Wall Street Journal.

After the elder Gurlitt died in 1956, his son assumed the collection.

Gurlitt apparently brought the Monet to the hospital in southern Germany as his health worsened earlier this year. Gurlitt went home shortly before he died on May 6, but the work was left at the hospital, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Experts have determined that around 450 works in the Gurlitt collection are suspected of being looted art, while another 380 may have been confiscated “degenerate” works, Agence France-Presse added.

The works were seized in early 2012 when they were discovered by chance during a tax-evasion probe.

The Monet that Gurlitt brought with him into the hospital shows a landscape in light blue, according to a statement released by the government task force investigating the hoard.

“An initial look through the Monet catalogue of works indicates that it may have been completed in 1864,” given its similarity to the painting “Vue de Sainte-Adresse” finished that year.

Before his death on May 6 at the age of 81, Gurlitt struck a deal with the German government to help track down the rightful owners of the artwork.

(Top: The recently discovered Monet that was in possession of Cornelius Gurlitt until his death in May is said to resemble “Vue de Sainte-Adresse,” shown here.)

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7 thoughts on “Monet discovered among art hoard collected during Nazi era

  1. That is a beautiful artwork, very different in comparison to the gardens. That should be donated instead to the moseum. Owner should be deceased by now.

    • The owner may be deceased, but his/her heirs may be still be alive. Unfortunately, many museums were complicit in plunder, either buying art work from desperate Jews at fire sale prices or, after the war, failing to do due diligence on works that came up for sale in order not to have to “discover” that they had been the property of Nazi victims.

  2. I always love stories about artwork. I hope they will be able to place this where many can see it, although it would be kind to return to the original buyers/owners of this priceless Monet piece! I loved the movie, “The Monument Men,” which only was $1 at the redbox, my Mom and brother liked this too. We are blessed with quite a wonderful collection in the Cleveland Art Museum in Ohio. They have the lily pad pond which takes up a whole long wall of the museum. I love to sit on a bench there and feel the serenity of the setting Monet captured. There are a few other smaller pieces in the Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati art museums, too.

    • I haven’t seen the movie, but would like to. I was able to see a handful of Monets when an exhibition of Impressionists was on display at the local museum last year. My girls and I found them fascinating. I envy your ability to view his work at will.

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