BERLIN (JTA) —Â German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt has reached an agreement to restitute any works in a valuable cache discovered last fall that were stolen by the Nazis.
The agreement allows the German government to research the provenanceÂ of all the works in his collection. Those deemed not to have been robbed or confiscated from Jewish collectors orÂ museums by the Nazis would be returned to Gurlitt.
According to a reportÂ Monday by the German news service Deutsche Welle, the investigation should beÂ completed within a year.
This week’s announcement came from the state of Bavaria, the federalÂ culture minister’s office and Gurlitt’s attorneys. The cost of the research is to be borne by the German federalÂ government and the state of Bavaria.
In the announcement, federal Culture Minister Monika GruttersÂ said the “agreement paved the way for fair and just resolutions,Â especially through restitution.”
According to the agreement, Gurlitt may have at least oneÂ expert representing him on the task force researching the provenance of the works. He also reportedly agreed to grant the taskÂ force access to the works if necessary beyond the one-year deadline.
Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand, was an art dealer on assignment to theÂ Nazis who died in 1956 in an accident; his sonÂ inherited the collection. In 2012, customs agents investigatingÂ Cornelius Gurlitt for tax evasion confiscated his Munich stash of someÂ 1,400 works.
The existence of the collection – which includes works by artists such as Picasso, DÃ¼rer, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Beckmann and Matisse —Â was kept under wraps until Focus magazine broke the story last fall.
Spurred by artÂ provenance researchers and restitution advocates around the world, Germany established a taskÂ force to deal specifically with the Gurlitt case. It includes expertsÂ recommended by the Conference of Jewish Material Claims AgainstÂ Germany, among others.
In the meantime, works collected by the elder Gurlitt also were found to be stashed in his son’s home in Salzburg, Austria, asÂ well as in other locations in Austria and Switzerland.
Gurlitt, 81, has maintained that his collection is legitimate. Earlier this year, his attorneys publicized a new website whereÂ possible heirs could contact him.
Recently they announced that the Matisse painting “Seated Woman,” which the Nazis stole from Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg, would beÂ returned to its rightful heirs, and that further restitutions wereÂ expected. A second claim has since been lodged for the return of the same painting, which will be investigated, according to Gurlitt’s attorney.