November 2013

Nazi Confiscated Degenerate Art in Munich

The Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Bavarian City of Augsburg has recently announced that over 1400 lost works of art (the Gurlitt Collection) have been secured in Munich and are undergoing ownership examination. It is assumed that a substantial portion of these masterpieces were Nazi looted or otherwise confiscated, and may thus be subject to potential claims of restitution. Currently 380 pieces are being examined as potentially confiscated “Degenerate Art” and another 590 are being examined as potentially looted either in Germany or other Nazi occupied nations.


Complex judicial and legal issues exist, not only as concerns the status of such lost artworks, but also as relates to ownership interests and restitution rights. Bavarian authorities have indicated that these lost works have only been temporarily secured pursuant to an ongoing investigation, and that negotiations will be pursued with Mr. Gurlitt to resolve his claimed legal ownership. Mr. Gurlitt has publicly countered that he has no interest in a negotiated settlement and has demanded return of the complete collection. The fact that Mr. Gurlitt further asserts that he is domiciled in Salzburg, Austria and is subject only to Austrian taxing authorities raises further jurisdictional complexities.


Measures by victims or their descendants as concern specific artworks in the Gurlitt Collection should be pursued as soon as possible with the appropriate German authorities so as to provide notice of any ownership and restitution claims, especially in light of pending negotiations with Mr. Gurlitt, to avoid such specific artwork being prematurely released to Mr. Gurlitt and eventually removed from German jurisdiction.


The Law Offices of Elson D. Nowell in Munich/Nuremberg, Germany can provide support in pursuing measures to preserve such ownership and restitution claims.


All inquiries may be directed in English or German to:


Law Offices of

Elson D. Nowell

Attorney at Law (USA)


Munich Office:
Altheimer Eck 13
D-80331 Munich
Telefon: +49-(0)89-189 3128 23
Telefax: +49-(0)89-189 3128 99


Nuremberg Office:
Pinzberger Weg 33
90425 Nürnberg
Mobile Telefon: +49-(0)151-5066 7033