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Bern bequest Court action delays evaluation of Gurlitt art collection

When will the Gurlitt collection finally go on show in Bern?  

(Keystone)

Assessment of controversial artworks left to Bern’s Museum of Fine Arts by German collector Cornelius Gurlitt has been delayed by a relative’s claim to the inheritance.

The museum confirmed on Tuesday that no progress could be made in reviewing the collection while a claim by Gurlitt’s cousin, Uta Werner, was pending in a Munich district court.

Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, died in April 2014, naming the museum the sole heir to the collection of more than 1,500 paintings, drawings, lithographs, woodcuts and posters  by artists including Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Monet.

The decision to accept the collection was made in November 2014, and the museum had  hoped to complete provenance research by the end of 2015.

The Munich case is not expected to be resolved for several months. Christoph Schäublin, chairman of the museum board, said they regretted the delay.

He noted the case further complicated the restitution of the works by Matisse and Liebermann, the only two restitution recommendations made so far by Germany’s Schwabing Art Trove Task Force, which is carrying out provenance research on the collection. The Bern museum said it would cooperate closely with the task force.

Also on Tuesday the museum announced the appointment of Swiss art historian Oskar Bätschmann to head a team in Bern carrying out provenance research on the artworks. The museum also plans to hire three more researchers for a period of six years. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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