Two years ago, police discovered 1,400 artworks in Germany that had been stolen by the Nazis. Now it turns out that 21 of these paintings were by famous Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
Two years ago, police discovered close to 1,500 artworks during a police raid against the art collector Cornelius Gurlitt, who was accused of tax fraud. Almost half of these works are believe to be paintings that the Nazis stole from Jewish families.
Up until April this year, the findings were kept secret to the public. Cornelius Gurlitt died in May, but before he passed away he donated his entire art collection to the Museum of Fine Arts Bern. Now the museum has published a list of all the works in Gurlitt's collection, which includes 21 paintings by Edvard Munch.
"Nobody has known what this collection consists of until now. It is very interesting to find out that 21 of these works are by Munch," says Stein O. Henrichsen, director of the Munch Museum in Oslo.
The Museum of Fine Arts Bern will now launch an investigation of the works, and they also hope to return the pieces to their original owners.
Gerlitt's controversial collection is estimated to have a value of NOK 8 billion, but Henrichsen does not want to speculate what the value may be for the 21 works by Munch.
"What kind of consequences this will have for our museum is difficult to say. Based on what I know, most of Munch's works are signed. Therefore it will be exciting to find out ho these works have ended up in the situation they are in now. There may be historical connections that are of interest to the Munch museum regardless of the ownership," Henrichsen tells Aftenposten.