Documents from Gurlitt’s estate now accessible at the German Federal Archives
Berlin, 8 April 2016. Documents and photos from Cornelius Gurlitt’s Salzburg estate can now be viewed at the German Federal Archives. By making them publicly accessible, the “Gurlitt Provenance Research” project aims to enhance the transparency of its investigation of the art trove.
The documents in question comprise some 600 historic photos dating between 1936 and 1941, found in photo albums at the Hamburg art gallery previously owned by the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt (1936-1941), Cornelius Gurlitt’s father, along with another 1,800 photos of artworks. On the reverse side of numerous photos, one can find expert assessments or comments which are valuable for provenance research. The documents include two lists with price estimates of a graphic art collection by Roger Delapalme – one from 1941 and the other undated – issued by the French expert Francois Max-Kann. These were discovered among 17 boxes of documents found in Cornelius Gurlitt’s house in Salzburg.
On 24 March 2016, 184 artworks, discovered at Gurlitt’s Salzburg residence, were added to the Lost Art Database.
According to Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Prof. Monika Grütters:
“This represent another important step towards achieving the greatest degree of transparency. I believe this is especially important as it builds confidence in the research findings, and we owe that to the victims and their descendants.”
In cooperation with the Institute für Zeitgeschichte, the “Gurlitt Provenance Research” project is currently working at the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich to inventory and catalogue Cornelius Gurlitt’s written estate in order to make it available to provenance researchers. The German Federal Archives are supporting the project by digitalising some 6,000 written documents from the estate. These will be made publicly accessible starting in mid-May 2016.
The German Lost Art Foundation took up the investigation of the Gurlitt art trove in January 2016 after establishing the “Gurlitt Provenance Research” project, financed by the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The project will conduct provenance research on 680 works, which the “Schwabinger Kunstfund” task force hadn’t conclusively investigated. Priority will be given to 189 artworks, for which there is reason to believe they were confiscated through Nazi persecution, or for which restitution claims have been made.