Swiss museum to reinvestigate origins of Nazi-era art collection

AFP 16 December 2021
By Agnès Pedrero

Works from Picasso, Renoir and more amassed by Emil Buhrle under new scrutiny after book raises questions about whether they were stolen from Jews during World War II

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Experts will review the methods used to determine the provenance of works in a vast private art collection acquired during World War II by Emil Buhrle, a Swiss museum said Wednesday.

The announcement by the Kunsthaus in Zurich came as renewed suspicions swirl around the Nazi-era origins of one of Europe’s most prestigious private art collections.

The late industrialist (1890-1956) amassed a fortune selling weapons to both the Nazis and the Allies during World War II, wealth that helped buy around 600 artworks by the end of his life.

The Buhrle Foundation itself confirms that 13 paintings bought by the German-born industrialist, who later acquired Swiss citizenship, had been stolen by the Nazis from Jewish owners in France.

Following a series of court cases after the war, Buhrle returned all 13 pieces to their rightful owners then repurchased nine of them, the foundation said.
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