German officials are on the defensive again following a report claiming that two works of art stolen by the Nazis were found in the German parliament’s art collection. The Bundestag has issued a statement denying the accusations leveled in an article in the German newspaper Bild.
According to the Bild's report, the Nazi-looted art consisted of two paintings, "Chancellor Bülow Speaks in the Reichstag" by Georg Waltenberger and “A Street in Konigsberg” by Lovis Corinth. They will be reviewed by the art historian currently investigating the provenance of 108 pieces of art in the German parliament’s collection, reports Reuters. The Bundestag has approximately 4,000 pieces of art and previously returned Nazi-looted art, a portrait of German chancellor Otto von Bismarck, in 2009.
Based on the report, the Central Council of Jews in Germany called for a list of the Bundestag’s art collection to be released to the public, notes Reuters. The Bundestag has released a statement categorically denying the claims made in the Bild and listing several “false allegations” made in the report.
According to the German parliament, a spokesperson for the Bundestag president did not state its investigation had found Nazi-looted art. The Bundestag did confirm it was investing “two suspected cases” but has yet to reach a conclusion and will publicly announce its findings, along with the investigation of the 108 pieces of art with unknown provenance, to the public. The Bundestag insists that the German parliament is open to any investigation of findings that could lead to restitution or returning the Nazi-looted art to its original owners.
The allegation comes just one month after the discovery of a treasure trove of Nazi-looted art, valued at over $1 billion. The German magazine Focus revealed the discovery of 1,400 pieces of art, which included works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, from a collection belonging to Cornelius Gurlitt that had been seized in 2011. Gurlitt is the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, a German art dealer who was commissioned by the Nazis to buy “degenerate art.” Instead of selling the art, Gurlitt kept it hidden and the works were found in his son’s apartment amid garbage and rotting food.
The Focus’ report led to widespread outrage as German officials had remained silent about the investigation, notes Reuters. One of the alleged pieces of Nazi-looted art is said to have once belonged to Gurlitt.