Scott: Over 1,400 pieces of art – some by very famous names – were uncovered in Germany. And Tom Hanson tells us why this fortune of art came with an even bigger price.
Tom: Hidden away for nearly seventy years, hundreds of paintings, sketches and sculptures by famous artists like Henri Matisse and Marc Chagal. One of the most impressive private collections in modern history, but officials believe all of it was stolen.
German customs investigators found this lost treasures in this apartment in Munich, Germany. The man who lived there, Cornelius Gurlitt, was the son of an art dealer for the Nazis. Some of the pieces were unveiled by German authorities at a press conference last week – art that collection experts didn’t even know existed until last year.
Julian Radcliffe: There are going to be pictures here which nobody knew the existence of and are genuinely by great artists.
Tom: Julian Radcliffe runs a London database of looted art.
Julian: So it is very important, but exactly how important, we don’t yet know.
Tom: But experts can estimate the value, and it is a lot – $1.3 billion.
During the 1940s, Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazi party, set up military units to seize valuable works of art from German museums and wealthy collectors. A lot of the art was supposedly stolen from Jews who fled Germany or died during the Holocaust. And after the Nazi’s were defeated in May of 1945, some of the paintings were recovered but many simply disappeared.
Marianne Rosenberg looks forward to getting this Henri Matisse original. It was stolen from her grandfather, Paul Rosenberg, in the 1940s.
Marianne Rosenberg: Of course, it’s a passion and it’s also a way to render homage to my grandfather, Paul, who was a very great man.
Tom: As to who ends up getting the art, that is still undecided. But since the art was stolen, it may be taken away from its current owner. In which case, some people think it should be returned to the families it was stolen from or even given to a museum. In the end though, it is up to the courts in Germany to make that decision.
Finding these treasures was a stroke of luck. And finding the true owners will be a tough job.
Tom Hanson, Channel One News.
Scott: For a closer look at some of the rediscovered works, head to Channelone.com.