Museums Switzerland

Gurlitt bequeathed art to the Kunstmuseum Bern

Latest twist to saga comes "out of the blue" for Swiss museum

A few of the works Gurlitt hoarded

Cornlius Gurlitt bequeathed his art collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern, according to a press statement issued by the Swiss museum today, 7 May. Christoph Edel, the lawyer of the reclusive German art collector who died on Monday, informed the institution earlier today that it is the sole heir of Gurlitt's estate.

“The news came out of the blue,” said the museum's director Matthias Frehner in the statement, “since there was never any kind of relationship between Mr Gurlitt and the Kunstmuseum Bern”. Although the museum is “grateful and happy” about the gift, it is keenly aware of the “considerable responsibility and the host of difficult legal and ethical questions” that the collection brings with it.

German tax authorities stumbled across Gurlitt's art collection in Munich during a routine investigation in 2012. Among the 1,280 works by Modern masters such as Matisse, Picasso and Emil Nolde are paintings and drawings that may have been looted, since Gurlitt's father was the art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt who prospered under the Nazis.

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