A Jewish group accused Germany today (November 4, 2013) of moral complicity in concealment of stolen paintings, after it emerged authorities failed for two years to report the discovery of a treasure of art seized by the Nazis -- including works by Picasso and Matisse -- according to the Yahoo News website.
Customs officials' chance discovery of 1,500 artworks in a Munich flat -- owned by the reclusive elderly son of a World War II-era art dealer -- was revealed in a report by the news magazine Focus yesterday.
Officials in the southern state of Bavaria declined comment on what could be one of the most significant recoveries of Nazi-looted art. They have called a press conference for tomorrow (November 5). German government spokesman Steffen Seibert confirmed the find and said experts were assessing its original source.
Focus estimated that the works found among the stacks of hoarded groceries in the flat of Cornelius Gurlitt could be worth well over 1.4 billion dollars. "This case shows the extent of organized art looting which occurred in museums and private collections," said Ruediger Mahlo, of the Conference of Jewish material claims against Germany, noting private art collections were almost all Jewish.