Gurlitt says he will return looted art

By Rosa Doherty, March 28, 2014

A German art collector has confirmed that he will return Nazi-looted works to their Jewish owners.

Cornelius Gurlitt, who had hidden a large collection of masterpieces in his Munich flat, has decided to return the pieces of art after taking advice from his lawyers.

Mr Gurlitt's lawyer, Christophe Eel, said the 81-year-old has instructed his legal team that "should there be reasonable suspicions about individual works having been looted, please return them to their Jewish owners".

Mr Gurlitt's stash of art was discovered in 2012 and contains a unique collection of modernist masterpieces.

The discovery prompted restitution claims from Jewish relatives of the original owners who had missing art from their collections.

A portrait by Henri Matisse, called Seated Woman, is believed to be among the first to be returned to descendants of Parisian art collector Paul Rosenberg according to a report in German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Investigators discovered a second ho a rd of artworks at Mr Gurlitt's Salzburg home in February this year.

The Salzburg collection is believed to total 238 items, rather than the 60, as was originally thought.

It contains artworks by Cézanne, Corot, Gaugin, Liebermann, Manet, Pissaro, Renoir and Toulouse-Latrec.

Mr Eel has said that "only a small percentage" of Mr Gurlitt's collection - about 50 works - would be subject to restitution claims.

Last updated: 10:08am, March 28 2014