Germany began publishing an online list of works on Tuesday that were discovered in a huge art stash in a Munich flat last year and believed for the most part to have been stolen or extorted by the Nazis.
The works were found in the home of war-time German art dealer, Hildebrand Gurlitt, whose reclusive son Cornelius sold pieces whenever he needed cash. The lost modern art is worth millions of euros.
President of the German Jewish Community, Dieter Graumann told euronews: “it is important that we have transparency through both the internet and experts, something we haven’t had until now. It should have happened long ago.”
The German government has been heavily criticised for keeping silent for almost two years about the trove of art works until a German magazine broke the story last week.
Investigators found a vast trove containing works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, rotting among stacks of groceries inside the Munich flat.
Winfried Bausback, State Justice Minister, Bavaria said: “Bearing in mind Germany’s historical responsibility, as well as the interests of the rightful owners, not only do we need to pursue a criminal investigation but also an inquiry into the exact origin of the paintings.”
Defending their policy of silence, government officials said they were worried about the security of the art and the related insurance. Also, a confidential tax fraud investigation was taking place into Cornelius Gurlitt.