A recent search of a Munich apartment yielded the astonishing discovery of about $1.4 billion worth of looted art missing since the Nazi era.
The German magazine Focus reportedly says that German tax authorities found the art in 2011 after obtaining a search warrant for the home of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of a Munich art dealer.
Some 1,500 artworks were uncovered, many by the likes of Renoir, Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall. An estimated 200 of the works are known to be missing and under international warrants.
The Nazis seized about 16,000 artworks, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Artwork was confiscated for being "degenerate" and often re-sold at below market prices. Jewish art dealers and collectors were also forced to sell works at auction, or hurriedly sold art for prices below value before they fled the country. Other works were simply stolen during the wartime chaos.
The recently recovered artwork is being stored in a secure Munich warehouse, say reports. Authorities have not yet revealed the artworks as they are working on finding the rightful owners.
Cornelius Gurlitt's father, Hildebrandt, had been under the command of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels to monetize the "degenerate" art. He later claimed that the seized art was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden in 1945.
His son eluded notice until 2010 when German custom officials found him on a train from Switzerland with 9,000 Euros on hand. A routine check revealed that Gurlitt was not registered with any German authorities or services.
The art was found hidden behind old cans of beans, fruit and noodles in his Munich apartment.