Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media restitutes Nazi-confiscated property from the Gurlitt estate

Date 2017.02.21

Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sion­er for Cul­ture and the Me­dia Prof. Moni­ka Grüt­ters has hand­ed over a draw­ing by Adolph von Men­zel en­ti­tled “In­neres ein­er go­tis­chen Kirche” (In­te­ri­or of a Goth­ic Church), found in the es­tate of Cor­nelius Gurlitt, to the heirs of its orig­i­nal own­er, El­sa He­lene Co­hen.

The Schwabing Art Trove Task­force had iden­ti­fied Men­zel’s pen­cil draw­ing as Nazi-con­fis­cat­ed prop­er­ty at the end of 2015.Ac­cord­ing to the Task­force’s find­ings, El­sa Co­hen was be­lieved to have sold the work –which she had in­her­it­ed from her fa­ther, Ham­burg art deal­er Al­bert Mar­tin Wolff­son –in 1938 to fi­nance her es­cape to the US, where her de­scen­dants live to­day.

The resti­tu­tion, which was un­der­tak­en by the Fed­er­al Re­pub­lic in ac­cor­dance with the Agree­ment of Novem­ber 24, 2014, be­tween the Fed­er­al Re­pub­lic of Ger­many, the Free State of Bavaria and the Stiftung Kun­st­mu­se­um Bern as the tes­ta­men­tary heir of Cor­nelius Gurlitt, could not be made be­fore now due to a le­gal dis­pute over Gurlitt’s will.It was not un­til De­cem­ber 2016 that the High­er Re­gion­al Court in Mu­nich fi­nal­ly con­firmed Kun­st­mu­se­um Bern’s sta­tus as heir, there­by clear­ing the way for the resti­tu­tion.The draw­ing was re­ceived by Jasper M. Wolff­son, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the heirs of El­sa Co­hen, in the pres­ence of Jürg Buch­er, pres­i­dent of the Kun­st­mu­se­um Bern – Zen­trum Paul Klee um­brel­la foun­da­tion.

Kulturstaatsministerin Grütters übergibt die Zeichnung an den Vertreter der Erben, Jasper M. Wolffson. Kulturstaatsministerin Grütters übergibt die Zeichnung an den Vertreter der Erben, Jasper M. Wolffson. Source:  Bundesregierung/Plambeck