Website of the German Lost Art Foundation

Cornelius Gurlitt’s business documentation now accessible in the Federal Archives

Date 2017.07.03

Dig­i­tized busi­ness doc­u­ments from the es­tate of art deal­er Cor­nelius Gurlitt can now be viewed in the read­ing rooms of the Fed­er­al Archive and used for prove­nance re­search. Pre­lim­i­nary work for the Gurlitt Prove­nance Re­search project forms the ba­sis for re­search in­to the art deal­er’s busi­ness doc­u­ments. Fol­low­ing the rul­ing of De­cem­ber 15, 2016, in which Kun­st­mu­se­um Bern was con­firmed as Gurlitt’s heir, files from the art deal­er’s es­tate can now be in­spect­ed in the read­ing rooms of the Fed­er­al Archive in Koblenz, Berlin-Lichter­felde, Freiburg and Bayreuth.

The Gurlitt Prove­nance Re­search project and Mu­nich’s Zen­tralin­sti­tut für Kun­st­geschichte in co­op­er­a­tion with the In­sti­tut für Zeit­geschichte opened up the ex­ten­sive es­tate with the aim of mak­ing it avail­able for prove­nance re­search. The es­sen­tial work stages in­clud­ed in­spect­ing, cat­a­loging and sort­ing the doc­u­ments ac­cord­ing to the archive’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions and then an­a­lyz­ing them. Ap­prox­i­mate­ly 22,000 doc­u­ments of a com­mer­cial na­ture and those pre­dom­i­nant­ly re­lat­ing to busi­ness were ul­ti­mate­ly se­lect­ed for dig­i­ti­za­tion. The project al­so pro­duced an over­all in­ven­to­ry in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of the Fed­er­al Archive, as well as an ex­ten­sive find­ing aid, com­pris­ing over 250 pages, re­lat­ing to the ma­jor­i­ty of the cor­re­spon­dence.

The Fed­er­al Archive car­ried out the dig­i­ti­za­tion of the 22,000 se­lect­ed doc­u­ments and en­sured their prompt pro­vi­sion via file di­rec­to­ries on the read­ing room com­put­ers. The dig­i­tized pho­tographs from the Gurlitt es­tate, which have been ac­ces­si­ble for re­search in the Fed­er­al Archive since 2016, are thus sup­ple­ment­ed by the busi­ness cor­re­spon­dence from the es­tate and are now avail­able in one place for the pur­pose of re­search.