Published: 13 Dec 2013 15:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Dec 2013 15:55 GMT+01:00
Police broke into the flat of Cornelius Gurlitt on Thursday, the son of a Nazi art dealer who hoarded hundreds of works believed to have been looted by the Third Reich. Officers became concerned that no-one had heard from him.
A relative of the 81-year-old notified police in Munich’s Schwabing district over fears about his health, Munich newspaper the Tageszeitung.
Since early November Gurlitt has been the focus of huge media attention after a trove of over 1,400 previously unknown masterpieces were uncovered in his Munich flat.
The family member called the authorities because Gurlitt had stopped answering the phone, a police spokesman told the Abendzeitung. More importantly, he had missed a doctor’s appointment without letting the surgery know.
The son of art collector Hildebrand Gurlitt was also ignoring people knocking on his door. But when two police cars, the fire brigade and an ambulance arrived at his apartment on Thursday afternoon they found him in good health, the Süddeutsche newspaper reported.
The police spokesman told the Abendzeitung that officers took the decision to break into his apartment due to fears for his health.
Gurlitt was last seen in public on November 13th when he was spotted leaving his apartment and heading to Munich airport with a Spiegel journalist.
His vast collection, which was confiscated in November, includes pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Munch and Cezanne among others.
Around 600 of the works are thought to have been looted by the Nazis and so far more than 200 of them have been published on the website www.lostart.de so that rightful owners can stake claims.
A task force appointed to research the origin of the art has said that around 590 pictures fall into the category of art looted or extorted by the Nazis from Jewish collectors.