A German court recently announced that Gurlitt’s will is valid, and dismissed the claims by Gurlitt’s cousin Uta Werner that he lacked capacity to make his will. This once again establishes the Kunstmuseum Bern as the sole heir to his collection. Werner has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
So far three paintings have been identified as being looted by the Nazis, but the court case slowed down their return to the heirs of the original owners. Should the appeals court uphold the original ruling, hopefully those paintings will soon be in the hands of their proper owners.
The task force that was formed to research the provenance of the paintings has been criticized for not identifying more than three paintings. Provenance research, particularly from an era when records have been destroyed, can be incredibly difficult. And the research must be done in painstaking detail, because we cannot automatically assume that every painting in Gurlitt’s collection was stolen or improperly obtained. Certainly other works from this period were found to have been properly purchased, even works from Goering’s own collection. Further, it is possible that the task force put it’s research on hold as the court case was heard.
Given the strange nature of this case, we will probably hear more about the Gurlitt collection.