A German man who was accused of having a secret hoard of artwork, including pieces looted by the Nazis during World War II, had what appears to be a valuable impressionist painting in the suitcase he took to the hospital before he died, according to media reports.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Cornelius Gurlitt had in his large collection works of art that were stolen from Jews during World War II. He inherited them from his father, Hildebrand, an art dealer under the Nazis. The collection included works by Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and others.
The executor of Gurlitt’s estate last week discovered a painting believed to have been created by the Renaissance master Claude Monet inside a suitcase that Gurlitt had taken with him to the hospital before he died in May.
In this Nov. 4, 2013 file photo cars are parked outside the apartment building in Munich, Germany, where more than 1,400 artworks were found in the apartment of collector Cornelius Gurlitt. Gurlitt, a reclusive German collector whose long-secret hoard of well over 1,000 artworks triggered an international uproar over the fate of art looted by the Nazis, died Tuesday, May 6, 2014. He was 81. (AP Photo/dpa, Marc Mueller, File)
JTA reported Sunday that the painting is believed to have been created in 1864 and is similar to Monet’s “View of Sainte-Adresse.”
It is unknown yet whether the piece was stolen from Jews during World War II.
The BBC reported on Gurlitt’s “stash” of more than 1,000 pieces of art “hidden in his Munich apartment”:
They were seized by the authorities in 2012 during a search of his home as part of a tax evasion probe, and included pieces by Picasso, Chagall and Matisse.
Details of the find were not made public until November last year.
It is unclear why Gurlitt had left behind his suitcase at the hospital.
The task force handling the art trove say the latest find is a light-blue landscape painted on paper, which may have been produced in 1864.
The Wall Street Journal noted, “the record price for a work on paper by Monet was set at $746,500 by Sotheby's … New York in 2010, but prices for works on paper by famous artists vary greatly depending on condition and detail.”
JTA reported that subsequent to the investigation, Gurlitt pledged to return the stolen pieces to the heirs of the original owners.
The Nazi theft of valuable artwork and a U.S. platoon’s efforts to retrieve it was dramatized recently in the George Clooney film "The Monuments Men."