Art collector Cornelius Gurlitt wrote second will (DE)

BERLIN–Art collector Cornelius Gurlitt wrote a second will, the contents of which are still unknown, Munich’s district court said in a statement on Tuesday.

In a will dated Jan. 9, Mr. Gurlitt, the 81-year-old son of a Nazi-era art dealer, bequeathed his 1,400-strong collection of artworks including pieces by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse to Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Bern. After Mr. Gurlitt’s death last week, his legal guardian and lawyer Christoph Edel told the Kunstmuseum Bern of the contents of the Jan. 9 will and provided the museum with a copy.

However, Mr. Gurlitt wrote a second will dated Feb. 21, the Munich court said on Tuesday. He left both wills with a notary in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, the court said. The wills were opened there on May 8 and only arrived at the Munich court today. The contents of the second will haven’t yet been revealed.

Last Wednesday, the Munich court said in a statement announcing the death of Mr. Gurlitt that it had asked the notary to provide it with a copy of Mr. Gurlitt’s will. The court had placed Mr. Gurlitt under the tutelage of a guardian earlier this year. The court revealed when the documents arrived Tuesday that there were two wills, rather than one.

Even if new heirs to the Gurlitt art trove should emerge now alongside the Kunstmuseum Bern, this could be without consequence for the families of Holocaust victims, who have been trying to reclaim artworks from the collector’s trove. This is because Mr. Gurlitt signed a document on April 7 agreeing to return all artworks found to have been looted to their original owners. The Bavarian justice ministry, a party to this agreement, said last week the pledge was legally binding on Mr. Gurlitt and his heirs.

Matthias Henkel, spokesman for the task force of experts appointed by the government to research the trove, told The Wall Street Journal: “This does not change anything. The agreement Mr. Gurlitt signed remains valid. We will work cooperatively with his heirs, whoever they are.”


Art Collector Cornelius Gurlitt Wrote Second Will
Mary M. Lane
May 13, 2014
The Wall Street Journal