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Taking Stock: German tax authorities find Nazis’ looted art stash

WHILE PRIDING ITSELF on its high-quality humour, a story has reached TS Towers from Germany of such intrigue that it was felt a departure from normal service was required.

You see, the activities of Cornelius Gurlitt – the reclusive son of a Munich art dealer – had caught the attention of the German tax authorities.

Suspecting tax evasion, the authorities decided to investigate, and rather than standard failure to pass on VAT, some 1,500 artworks confiscated by the Nazis in the 1930s and ‘40s were discovered.

Works by Matisse, Picasso and Chagall are included in the haul, first discovered in 2011, German news magazine Focus reports.

Many of the works were declared degenerate or un-German by the Nazis, while others were stolen from or forcibly sold for a pittance by Jewish art collectors.

The investigators discovered the collection after gaining a search warrant, and found Gurlitt jnr had kept the art in darkened rooms, selling the occasional painting when he was short of cash. In all, it is thought the trove is work around £846m.

There are international warrants out for at least 200 of the works. The collection is now held in a secure warehouse in Munich for the time being.

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