Over 1,500 paintings previously thought destroyed in World War II have been found in Germany after officials followed up on a hunch. Three years ago, customs officials performed a routine check on a train from Switzerland. On the train was Hildebrandt Gurlitt, a Munich resident who reportedly had a “shifty demeanor.” They could never have imagined that the reason for Gurlitt’s demeanor was an unimaginable “treasure trove” of important artworks.
Gurlitt “was a man who didn’t exist,” one official told Focus, the German publication that broke the story. He was not registered with the police, tax authorities, or social services — mandatory in Germany — and also held neither a pension nor health insurance. Continuing the investigation, in 2011 officials searched Gurlitt’s home, reportedly a squalid budget apartment in the Munich suburbs. Behind “mountains of rotting food and decades-old tin cans” lay a collection of artworks thought to be worth over $1.35 billion, including paintings by Picasso, Matisse, and Renoir.
Related stories From Daily Tech Whip