By Allan Hall, Jill Reilly and Ted Thornhill
From the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk):
The £1billion hoard of paintings found in the squalid Munich flat of Cornelius Gurlitt contained previously unknown works by Matisse, Marc Chagall and Otto Dix, investigators have revealed.
Customs officials found an astonishing treasure trove of modernist paintings at the residence of Gurlitt, 80, and promptly confiscated it.
The 1,500 works – some of them priceless – were said to have been lost to the flames when Allied aircraft bombed Dresden in 1945.
Remarkable: A painting from Henry Matisse called Sitzende Frau (Sitting Woman) – one of the previously unknown works found at Gurlitt’s flat – is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg
Never-before-seen: A painting of Otto Dix called Selbstportrait Rauchend (Selfportrait Smoking)
Treasure trove: An allegorical scene painting by Marc Chagall that has never been seen by the art world emerged from Gurlitt’s collection
Siegfried Klöble, the head of the Munich customs office, revealed in a press conference on Tuesday that the previously unknown works included a self-portrait of Dix, thought to date to 1919, a portrait of a woman by Matisse and an allegorical work by Chagall.
The collection also contained works by Picasso, Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Max Beckmann, Max Liebermann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Carl Spitzweg, he added.
Klöble stated that it was highly unlikely that Gurlitt was hiding any other paintings.
Gurlitt vanished after the paintings were confiscated, with police suspecting that he has access to almost unlimited funds.
As well as selling The Lion Tamer, he sold off many of the paintings – works that wouldn’t attract headlines – before the intervention of German customs officials.
Important find: Another painting from Otto Dix found in Gurlitt’s flat by customs officials
French painter Gustav Courbet’s Village Girl With Goat and Germany’s Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Melancholy Girl
Significant: Max Liebermann’s Zwei Reiter am Strande (Two riders on the beach) had been kept in Gurlitt’s apartment
A reproduction of a painting by Italian painter Canaletto presented during the news conference on Tuesday
A work found in Gurlitt’s Munich flat by German painter Franz Marc displayed to journalists during Tuesday’s press conference
Holding place: Cornelius Gurlitt, lived off the collection and as a consequence he has managed to survive his entire life without any official bank account, pension or insurance. Pictured: The Munich apartment where officials discovered the hidden paintings
Gurlitt was a man of mystery in many aspects of his life.
The son of art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, he did not have an official bank account, pension or insurance – he simply lived off the extensive collection, selling them when his money dipped.
He never held down a job and was not registered with the authorities – mandatory in Germany – and was not known to the tax authorities or social services.
Collector: Hildebrandt Gurlitt amassed more than 1,500 masterpieces and ordered them to be destroyed in 1945
The paintings thought to have been destroyed in the war were found hidden behind tins of rotting food in a shabby flat.
They had been taken from their owners, many of them Jewish, by the Nazis, who regarded the Impressionist, Cubist and Modernist pieces as ‘degenerate’.
The story of their recovery begins one evening in September 2010 aboard a German Intercity Express train from Zurich in Switzerland to Munich.
Customs officials were carrying out a routine check on passengers – many wealthy Germans deposit money illegally in Switzerland to evade high tax rates at home – and asked for the papers of a white-haired man.
He proffered an Austrian passport in the name of Rolf Nikolaus Cornelius Gurlitt, born December 28, 1933, in Hamburg – currently residing in Salzburg.
‘He appeared nervous,’ said customs officials.
He said he had travelled to Switzerland for ‘business’ at the Galerie Kornfeld in Bern.
He then he pulled out an envelope with 9,000 euros in 500 euro notes inside – 1,000 euros under the legal limit which must declared to officials when crossing borders in Europe.
Gurlitt was allowed to go on his way, but the officials remained suspicious.
Extensive checks soon disclosed that he did not live in Salzburg but in Schwabing, and he was not registered with the authorities.
‘He was a man who didn’t exist,’ one official told Germany’s Focus magazine, which broke the story.
Control: Hitler only liked classical art and held exhibitions of modern ‘dissident’ pieces to show German people what not to like. Many of those paintings that appeared in those shows have been found in Gurlitt’s collection