By Fiona Keating : Subscribe to Fiona’s RSS feed | November 03, 2013 4:36 PM GMT
Artworks worth nearly £1bn, including paintings by Marc Chagall, have been found in a Munich flat.
An art collection of over 1,500 paintings seized by the Nazis has been found in Germany, thanks to a random customs check. The paintings had long been believed destroyed in a 1945 RAF raid.
Germany’s Focus magazine broke the story about the discovery of the horde, which includes paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and Chagall.
The paintings were discovered behind a stack of tinned beans and fruit in the squalid flat of Cornelius Gurlitt in the Munich suburb of Schwabing.
The collection was discovered by chance in 2011 when customs ran a routine check on a train from Switzerland. Officials questioned Gurlitt and became suspicious because of his shifty demeanour.
They found that he was not registered with the police, tax authorities or social services, which is mandatory in Germany. He also drew no pension and had no health insurance.
“He was a man who didn’t exist,” said one official.
On issuing a search warrant for his flat, they discovered the art treasure trove behind piles of rotting food.