Missing Owner of Nazi Art Cache Reportedly Spotted Shopping in Munich

While German authorities say Cornelius Gurlitt went missing, French journalists claim he simply isn't answering the door.

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The missing owner of one of the biggest Nazi-confiscated art collection found since World War II was spotted by two journalists not far from his Munich home.

More than 1,400 artworks by several artists of the modern age, some previously unknown, were held by German authorities for the past two years after being discovered in a raid by customs officials on an apartment in Munich, as part of a tax evasion investigation. The works include paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Klee.

Days after it was reported that the cache was found, German prosecutors said that 79-year-old Cornelius Gurlitt – the owner of the apartment and the target of the investigation – has disappeared.

But now, two journalists from French magazine Paris Match claim to have found Gurlitt doing his weekend shopping on Friday, not far from his apartment. The report said dismissed their request to interview him and that his eyes were "full of fear and anger."

The journalists said they had followed him after watching him leave the apartment, and that apparently he is still entrenched in his home, but simply refuses to answer the door.

The German magazine Spiegel on Monday reported that they received a letter from Gurlitt telling them not to use his name in articles.

On Sunday, police confiscated 22 paintings from the apartment of Gurlitt's brother-in-law, Nikolaus Fraessle, in Kornwestheim near Stuttgart. A report by Bild am Sonntag said that Fraessle contacted the police and asked them to collect the artworks, which he said are linked to the pieces found in Gurlitt's apartment.

Gurlitt's apartment building in Munich.Credit: Reuters

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