Painting Bequeathed to Swiss Museum Identified as Pissaro Looted From Jews

The Kunstmuseum in Bern has agreed with German authorities that it will accept the bequest by Cornelius Gurlitt except works proven to have been looted.

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A news conference on Cornelius Gurlitt's art stash, November 2013.
A news conference on Cornelius Gurlitt's art stash, November 2013.Credit: AP

A Swiss museum that received a bequest of Nazi-era art has acknowledged that at least one of the works in the collection was looted from Jews, the New York Times reported.

The work was one of 250 pieces in the so-called "Salzburg collection" of Cornelius Gurlitt, who left his entire estate to the museum when he died in May. Gurlitt's father, Hildebrand, was one of only four Nazi-era art dealers permitted to trade in looted and banned art.

The Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland agreed with Germany and the state of Bavaria on Monday that it would take possession of the works in the Gurlitt collection, except for those that are suspected of having been looted.

Shortly after the museum published the Salzburg list for the first time on Thursday, it acknowledged that one of the works, listed as “Paris Kathedrale,” was in all likelihood Pissarro's 1902 painting “View of Paris,” which is known to have been looted by the Nazis.

“We ourselves recognized that this is looted art,” museum director Matthias Frehner said on Friday. He promised that “we will do our utmost to arrange for a swift restitution” and that the picture would meanwhile stay with the German task force set up to investigate the provenance of the Gurlitt collection.

Other noteworthy pieces in the Salzburg collection are a Monet oil of Waterloo Bridge, a painting by Cézanne of one of his favorite subjects, the Mont Ste.-Victoire, and a Gauguin depicting people slumbering by candlelight.

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