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Art collector’s heirs

Munich court analyses Gurlitt’s wills

Munich courts have jurisdiction over Gurlitt's will because this Munich apartment building was his last "habitual residence" (Keystone)

Munich courts have jurisdiction over Gurlitt's will because this Munich apartment building was his last "habitual residence"


More details have emerged related to the will of Cornelius Gurlitt, the recluse art collector who left his entire collection to Bern’s Art Museum. A Munich court is now evaluating two complementary wills left by Gurlitt to determine where all of his belongings should go.

The two documents, dated January 9 and February 21, 2014, were submitted to Munich justice authorities by a notary public in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The Munich District Court is responsible for reviewing Gurlitt’s case because that is where he had his “last habitual residence”.

Gerhard Ziel, president of the Munich court, told the media on Tuesday that the two wills the court had received complemented each other, and that there was a “sole heir”. However, he did not specify the name of that heir.

Last week, Bern’s Art Museum announced it had been named the recipient of Gurlitt’s entire art collection, worth billions but shrouded in controversy because of suspicion that some of the works had been taken from Jewish owners in Nazi Germany and looted. Gurlitt died on May 6.

The museum is in the process of analysing the situation and deciding whether to take the collection. It did not comment on the latest revelations about Gurlitt’s complementary wills.

Ziel said that if the named recipient in the will was ruled out for any reason, “legal heirs would come into consideration.” Gurlitt’s closest relatives are his 93-year-old cousin Dietrich Gurlitt and that cousin’s son Ekkeheart, who had questioned the deceased Gurlitt’s mental faculties when he was drafting his will.

No legal challenges to Cornelius Gurlitt’s will have been submitted to the Munich courts, according to Zierl. He added that it was the court’s job to investigate any doubts regarding Gurlitt’s ability to make a will.

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