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Nazi Looted Art Worth $1.35B Found in Munich Home of Dealer's Son

Image: Nazi Looted Art Worth $1.35B Found in Munich Home of Dealer's Son Newspaper headline, "Billion Euro Art Treasure Discovered In Schwabing (a quarter of Munich)" displayed in front of Cornelius Gurlitt's apartment residence.

By Clyde Hughes   |   Monday, 04 Nov 2013 01:56 PM

German investigators found some 1,500 pieces of art in Munich believed to be taken by the Nazis before and during World War II.

The artwork, with an estimated worth of $1.35 billion, was found when German tax authorities in 2011 were investigating Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of a Munich art dealer, according to the German magazine Focus per BBC News.  

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If the artwork is determined to have been stolen, it would be one of the largest recovery of stolen artwork ever. According to the U.S. National Archives, in 1997, researchers believed that there were still at least 100,000 works of art still missing that Nazis had seized. 

USA Today reported that the pieces include works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, which were hidden in a storage closet and believed to once belong to French art dealer Paul Rosenberg. Rosenberg represented Picasso, Matisse and other artists before fleeing France in 1940.

The artwork was hidden behind food cans and juice cartons in Gurlitt's closet. His father Hildebrand Gurlitt was an art collector and former museum director.

BBC News reported that Nazis viewed most modern art as "degenerate" and banned it. Some artwork was destroyed while other artwork was sold to collectors at low prices.

There are still some 200 international warrants outstanding for artwork believed to have been confiscated by Nazis. Gurlitt is currently being held in Munich.

Gurlitt prompted authorities' suspicion in 2011 after customs found him carrying a large amount of cash in an envelope during a routine search on a train trip from Switzerland to Munich.

Investigators raided Gurlitt's Munich apartment in the spring 2011 and discovered the masterpieces.

A similar discovery was made last week. Reuters reported that a commission investigating the looting of Dutch property during the Nazi era identified 139 works of art, including two 17th century portraits and eight other paintings from Amsterdam's famed Rijksmuseum. 

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