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Costly bequest Nazi art collection pushes Bern museum into red

The Gurlitt collection has been an expensive bequest for the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern 

(Keystone)

Accepting the art collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of one of Hitler’s art dealers, has so far cost the Museum of Fine Arts in Bern around CHF800,000 ($850,000). Instead of a profit of CHF300,000 for 2014, it was almost CHF530,000 in the minus. 

Museum director Matthias Frehner confirmed media reports on Friday that the museum was CHF524,129 in the red for the last financial year. However, he said the expenses had been predictable, adding that the deficit would be covered by the museum’s financial reserves. 

An article in the Berner Zeitung said the museum had spent CHF830,207 on legal and art-historical clarifications during the past financial year. 

The annual report said the Gurlitt collection would prove its financial worth in the figures for 2015. 

Masterpieces 

The museum decided in November 2014 to accept the 1,200 paintings, drawings and sketches which had been bequeathed to it by reclusive German citizen Cornelius Gurlitt. 

In 2010, Gurlitt had been randomly stopped on a train from Switzerland and found to be carrying thousands of euros. The German authorities, suspecting he was a tax dodger, entered his Munich flat and found it crammed with masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, Renoir and Matisse. 

When Gurlitt died in May 2014, he named the – very surprised – Museum of Fine Arts in Bern sole heir of his collection. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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