Cornelius Gurlitt, identified in obituaries as a “Nazi-era art hoarder,” died this morning in Munich of heart trouble. Gurlitt’s cache of more than 1,400 important modern works, inherited from his art-dealer father—including pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Manet, and Renoir—was discovered in 2012. It was not made public until November 2013. Although classified as “second-degree mixed-race Jewish,” Hildebrand Gurlitt was one of three dealers given official sanction by Hitler to peddle “degenerate art” in other countries, with the profits going to Germany. And although Gurlitt was required to return a number of works to their former owners, the majority of the collection is thought to have been acquired “legally.”
Isolated from the outside world, Gurlitt stopped watching television in 1963, booked hotel rooms months in advance by post when he had to travel, and never used the Internet, according to Spiegel magazine. His collection was discovered in a raid after authorities became suspicious when he was found carrying 9,000 euros during a random search at the Swiss border in 2010. He was returning from a visit to Bern to sell some artwork there.