A case as enthralling as a thriller: In 2010 while crossing the Swiss-German border an old man catches the attention of two German tollkeepers. In his luggage they find 9000 Euros in hard cash, an amount just under the tolerated declaration mark. The man is called Cornelius Gurlitt, 79 years old at that time. The tollkeepers decide to observe him. When in 2011 Gurlitt gives an extremely valuable expressionistic painting to an auction and sells it for nearly 1 million Euros a search order is obtained. What investigators found in his Munich apartment exceeds all expectations: a giant art collection consisting of more than 1000 pieces of art from different eras. One additional fact draws the attention of the investigators: The collection was passed on to Gurlitt by his father Hildebrand, an art dealer during the Nazi era. May these painting be looted art, taken from Jewish families by the Nazis? The collection gets confiscated.
The documentary “Gurlitt and the Secret of the Nazi Treasure” is the deepest analysis of the case so far. Based on investigative research the film gives new answers in a factual and placable way. It unfolds the true story of Cornelius’ father Hildebrand Gurlitt and reveals surprising results. Internal journals show that the entire Gurlitt-Case is based on the accusation of tax fraud which is yet to be proved. The research on the collection is only of symbolic value. All parties involved know that in most cases it is almost impossible to find previous owners and relatives.
“Gurlitt and the Secret of the Nazi Treasure” tells a story of nescience and diffidence in dealing with the past and the impossibility of doing justice to everybody.
FIRST BROADCAST: Wednesday, March 19th 2014 09.50 PM on ARTE