posted at 20:50
Author Name: Deborah Cole
Swiss museum to say whether it accepts Nazi-era art hoard
Gurlitt, who died last May aged 81, was the son of an art dealer tasked by Adolf Hitler to help plunder great works from museums and Jewish collectors, many of whom perished in the gas chambers. While media reports and sources close to the case widely expect the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern to accept the inheritance, all note it comes with a heavy price attached. His anger over his treatment reportedly led him to stipulate in his will that the collection should go not to a German museum but to the Swiss institution, which would now have to sort through the claims. News weekly Der Spiegel reported that the deal to be announced Monday would see the Bern museum accept the inheritance but would leave nearly 500 works in Germany suspected of being looted until their rightful owners can be identified. The Salzburg works would go to the Bern museum, which would assume responsibility for determining their provenance, according to Spiegel, which did not cite its sources. Should the Swiss museum unexpectedly turn down the offer, the pieces would be divided up among relatives of Gurlitt, who never married and had no children. Underlining the point, one of Gurlitt's cousins, 86-year-old Uta Werner, said Friday she was contesting Gurlitt's fitness of mind when he wrote the will naming the Bern museum as his sole heir. Meanwhile the acquisition of the Gurlitt hoard would dramatically increase the prestige of the Bern institution, Switzerland's oldest art museum.

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