A German official has suggested trying for an agreement with the reclusive collector of a massive trove of art which could allow some of the works to go on show to the public.
Authorities found more than 1,400 works of art at Cornelius Gurlitt’s Munich apartment last year while investigating a tax case. Prosecutors are checking whether up to 590 pieces were seized by the Nazis, but plan to return works which belong indisputably to Mr Gurlitt.
Bavaria’s state justice minister, Winfried Bausback, was quoted on Saturday as telling the Welt am Sonntag newspaper that negotiations could encompass restitution claims, secure storage for the works in future and “various models” under which some works could be shown publicly.
Germany has begun putting online more paintings and drawings of the priceless artworks discovered in the haul, including works by Edvard Munch, Max Liebermann and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, public prosecutors announced on Friday.
'Sitting Person with Dog' (Sitzende Person mit Hund) drawing by Max Liebermann
Officials said they would publish 590 of the 1,406 artworks found in the apartment of the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, a powerful art dealer commissioned by the Nazis with selling confiscated, looted and extorted works in exchange for hard currency.
Germany has faced international criticism for dragging its feet on publicising the discovery of the artworks, made in February 2012 but kept secret until a news magazine reported it two weeks ago.
Campaigners for the return of art stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners urged the authorities to publish the images so that those missing artworks could make claims. However German officials have said that proving ownership could be difficult and that many pieces may end up being returned to Mr Gurlitt.