NY Times [...] When he learned on Monday that the Beckmann seller, Cornelius Gurlitt, now 80, had reportedly sat on hundreds of works, including art by Picasso and Matisse, that were confiscated under the Nazis or sold cheaply by owners desperate to flee Hitler, Mr. Feddersen was amazed. “Imagine!” he said, envisaging seeing and selling such a collection.
But even before the Beckmann was sold, the Bavarian authorities swooped in on Mr. Gurlitt’s home to seize the rest of his treasure, according to the newsmagazine Focus: about 1,500 works estimated to be worth $1.4 billion. Focus said the works were seized after the police and customs officials entered Mr. Gurlitt’s home in Munich in spring 2011.
If confirmed, the discovery would be one of the biggest finds of vanished art in years. But word of it left almost equally big questions unanswered: Why did the German authorities let more than two years pass before such a sizable find was disclosed? What will become of the recovered works of art? Did Mr. Gurlitt continue to make sales even after the raid? And where is he today?
There are no reports that Mr. Gurlitt has been detained or charged, and questions about the history of the artworks, including whether they were confiscated or subject to a forced or voluntary sale, would determine whether a current sale or auction would be judged legitimate.
Since news of the find was first reported Sunday, the German authorities have come under fierce criticism in the art world as to why they did not make the discovery public.[...]