This is a chronology of the main events that have occurred since the public disclosure in November 2013 of what has become known as the ‘Schwabing (Munich) Art Trove’, events concerning the Taskforce directly but also events that were initiated by that discovery.


The ‘Schwabing Art Trove’ Taskforce was set up by the federal government of Germany and the Free State of Bavaria. The legal framework within which the provenance research is taking place has repeatedly changed since the founding of the Taskforce. In addition to the public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg, which confiscated the collection of art and documents from Cornelius Gurlitt’s Schwabing apartment, the persons responsible for all issues pertaining to the case were initially Cornelius Gurlitt himself, then his court-appointed custodian (Betreuer) and the team of lawyers commissioned by him. Since the death of Cornelius Gurlitt, that responsibility has passed to the court-appointed trustee of his estate. Once the ongoing inheritance dispute is resolved, that responsibility will again pass to Cornelius Gurlitt’s beneficiaries or heirs.


10 July 2015

Taskforce and CIVS intensify their cooperation

In the presence of the Ambassador of France to Germany, S. E. Philippe Etienne, the head of Taskforce “Schwabinger Kunstfund”, Dr Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel, and the President of the Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation Resulting from the Anti-Semitic Legislation in Force during the Occupation (CIVS) of France sign an agreement in order to deepen the cooperation.

12 May 2015

Munich district court

The court announced that the officer of the court granted the request made by the trustees of the deceased Cornelius Gurlitt’s estate, and approved the release and restitution of two paintings from the Gurlitt estate. The paintings are ‘Two Riders on a Beach’ by Max Liebermann and ‘Femme assise dans un fauteuil’ by Henri Matisse.



30 April 2015

Munich district court rejected the appeal from Uta Werner

The Munich district court announced that the judge has reviewed and upheld the decision of 23.3.2015. As a result the case was sent to the Munich court of appeal.



28 April 2015

Uta Werner appealed the decision of Munich district court

The Munich district court announced that Uta Werner has appealed its decision of 23 March 2015 by fax.



1 April 2015

Taskforce was subjected to the authority of the German Centre for Lost Cultural Property

Administrative responsibility for the ‘Schwabing Art Trove’ Taskforce was transferred from the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz to the Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste in Magdeburg. 



24 March 2015

Munich court approved the application for a certificate of inheritance from Kunstmuseum Bern

The Munich district court announced that it had granted the application for a certificate of inheritance submitted by the Kunstmuseum Bern and had rejected the certificate of inheritance of Cornelius Gurlitt’s cousin. Uta Werner had one month to appeal the court’s decision.


11 March 2015

The trustee informed the Taskforce

The trustee informed the ‘Schwabing Art Trove’ Taskforce that an art expert hired by the former legal custodian (Betreuer) of Cornelius Gurlitt had entrusted him with 17 boxes containing various documents. The Taskforce was unable to verify whether the 17 boxes actually contained all the documents that Cornelius Gurlitt’s legal custodian (Betreuer) had removed from the property before, and handed over to third parties. Within days of informing the trustee, he handed over the documents to the Taskforce to augment the research.

10 March 2015

New documents emerged

The ‘Berner Zeitung’ disclosed that, while Cornelius Gurlitt was still alive, his legal custodian (Betreuer) handed over some 25,000 documents—mostly originating from Cornelius Gurlitt’s Salzburg house—to a research team that he himself had commissioned. Although the documents form part of Cornelius Gurlitt’s estate, they were not entrusted to the trustee at the time of his appointment. 

10–12 March 2015

Fourth meeting of the Taskforce

The fourth meeting of the Taskforce took place in Berlin. The main subject of discussion was the status of research conducted to date.

12 February 2015

On the topic of restitution

In response to the question as to why no paintings have yet been returned to the last rightful owners or their heirs, the German government and the Kunstmuseum Bern explained the legal situation: On the one hand this is due to the fact that the estate is still under the control of the court-appointed trustee. Both the heir under the contested will, the Kunstmuseum Bern Foundation, and any possible legal heirs from the Gurlitt family under the applicable intestacy rules must expressly agree to restitution. Secondly, the heirs of victims of Nazi persecution must prove their ownership claims by providing the appropriate legal documents.



1 January 2015

German Centre for Lost Cultural Property

The Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste in Magdeburg was established at the behest of Prof. Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture, the sixteen German states, and local authorities.



28 November 2014

Taskforce published business records

The Taskforce publishes the digitised business records of Hildebrand Gurlitt on Due to data protection law, the names of buyers in the records were made illegible—with the exception of state offices such as the ‘Reichsluftfahrtministerium’ (Reich Ministry of Aviation) or ‘Museum Linz’. The head of the Taskforce can release individual names on request once proof has been provided of the legitimacy of the enquiry. The Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich was assigned the task of assessing and digitizing the correspondence from Gurlitt’s estate in order for these resources to be made available to researchers without interfering with the  privacy rights of individuals mentioned therein.

27 November 2014

Publication of lists of artworks

The Kunstmuseum Bern published a PDF file on its website containing a list of the artworks from the ‘Salzburg Find’ and the ‘Schwabing (Munich) Art Trove’  along with photographic images.



24–26 November 2014

Third meeting of the Taskforce

The third meeting of the Taskforce took place in Berlin. A substantial topic of the consultation was the implications of the appointment of the Kunstmuseum Bern as sole beneficiary to the estate.

24 November 2014

Kunstmuseum Bern announced its decision to accept the bequest - Agreement with the federal government and the Free State of Bavaria

The Kunstmuseum Bern announced that it would accept the legacy. The chairman of the board of the Kunstmuseum Bern Foundation Prof. Dr. Christoph Schäublin, the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, State Minister Prof. Monika Grütters, and the Bavarian Minister for Justice Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback signed an agreement in Berlin on how to proceed with Cornelius Gurlitt’s bequest, stating: The ‘Salzburg find’ will only be handed over to the Taskforce along with the other artworks found in Munich if the Kunstmuseum Bern finds reason, after its initial inspection, to suspect that the artworks may have been looted; the restitution of artworks is to be undertaken exclusively by the German federal government. It was agreed that artworks known to have been looted but for which no claim has been filed will remain in the Federal Republic of Germany. This will also apply in the case of artworks where it is not possible to affirm whether they were looted or not. For works of art classified as ‘degenerate art’, where there is no suspicion of expropriation or unlawful confiscation, the respective museums in Germany, Austria, and Poland will be granted preferential lending conditions.



21 November 2014

Certificate of inheritance

The Munich probate court received an informal application from Ms Uta Werner, a cousin of Cornelius Gurlitt, for a certificate of inheritance (Erbschein) based on an expert's opinion stating that Cornelius Gurlitt was mentally incapable of drafting a testament. In the process of granting probate, the court must validate the legitimacy of an existing will. The probate court only examines the legitimacy of a will when an application for grant of probate is submitted that meets all formal requirements. This attempt to ‘contest the will’ means that it is presently unclear who the beneficiary or heir will ultimately be. On these grounds, the estate will continue to be managed by a court-ordered trustee until the matter is clarified.



13 October 2014

Taskforce on Spitzweg

The Taskforce concluded the provenance research on Carl Spitzweg’s 'Das Klavierspiel'. The provenance of the artwork and its unlawful expropriation as a result of Nazi persecution has been established. 

5 September 2014

Another discovery

The trustee of Gurlitt’s estate submitted an additional artwork to the Taskforce (a landscape by Claude Monet), which Cornelius Gurlitt had kept with him in a suitcase when hospitalized at a clinic at the beginning of the year.

18 August 2014

Taskforce on Liebermann

The Taskforce concludes the research into the provenance of Max Liebermann’s 'Reiter am Strand' (Riders on the Beach) with the conclusion that it is highly likely that the artwork was unlawfully acquired from the property of David Friedmann, then resident of Breslau (today: Wroclaw in Poland). The provenance of the artwork has been established

24 July 2014

Further finds from the estate

The trustee of the estate  handed over to the Taskforce a box with 33 additional objects that had been secured by the probate court from Cornelius Gurlitt’s Munich estate after his death. They included a marble sculpture by Auguste Rodin. The Taskforce again was assigned the task of clarifying whether these objects reached Gurlitt as a result of Nazi persecution and art confiscation.

1 July 2014

Second meeting of the Taskforce

The second meeting of the Taskforce took place in Berlin. Dr Andrea Baresel-Brand was appointed as the scientific coordinator of research to be carried out by the Taskforce, as Dr. Uwe Hartmann had to leave due to prior obligations.

24 June 2014

Trustee of the estate appointed

A trustee was appointed to the estate of Cornelius Gurlitt by the Munich district court with responsibility for securing and managing the estate. 

11 June 2014

Taskforce on Matisse

The Taskforce announced that it was extremely likely that the painting 'Seated Woman' by Henri Matisse, for which competing claims had been made, had been expropriated unlawfully by the Nazis from the Jewish art dealer and collector Paul Rosenberg. The provenance of the artwork had been established after extensive research.

3 June 2014

Kunstmuseum Bern informed

Kunstmuseum Bern announced that its board of trustees had convened to discuss the bequest.



23 May 2014

Members of the Gurlitt family welcomed the will

In a statement members of the family announced: ‘We fully welcome Cornelius Gurlitt’s will, which names the Kunstmuseum Bern as the sole beneficiary of his valuable collection, and we explicitly support his decision. Following this announcement, we hope that the Kunstmuseum Bern will accept the bequest.’ The signatories included Gurlitt’s cousin Uta Werner, who later contested the will.



13 May 2014

Statement from the Kunstmuseum Bern

The Kunstmuseum Bern issued a statement on how it would proceed with regard to the potential acceptance of the bequest.



13 May 2014


With reference to the probate court, the press reported that Cornelius Gurlitt wrote his will on 9 January 2014, which was amended on 21 February 2014.


7 May 2014

Kunstmuseum Bern

The Kunstmuseum Bern issued a statement saying that it had been informed by Cornelius Gurlitt’s custodian (Betreuer) by telephone and in writing that the Kunstmuseum Bern Foundation had been appointed the sole beneficiary of Cornelius Gurlitt’s estate in his will.



7 May 2014

Last will and testament

The Munich district court announced that Cornelius Gurlitt had written a will witnessed by a notary in Baden-Württemberg. The probate court then had to inform the beneficiaries who had been named in the will. Beneficiaries living abroad had six months to decide whether they would accept the bequest or not. Further details pertaining to his will were initially not made public.



6 May 2014

Death of Cornelius Gurlitt

Cornelius Gurlitt died at the age of 81 in Munich. As stipulated by law, the custodian's (Betreuer's) responsibility and the prosecutor’s investigation came to an end.

(the website has been deleted in the meantime) 

9 April 2014

Termination of the seizure order

The public prosecution in Augsburg rescinded the seizure order; the ongoing inquiry, however, was not terminated. Cornelius Gurlitt had already declared in the agreement that he was prepared to leave the artworks in custody. From this point on, the Taskforce was jointly commissioned and funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Free State of Bavaria, with the explicit consent of Cornelius Gurlitt.



7 April 2014

Agreement with Cornelius Gurlitt

Cornelius Gurlitt signed an agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany and the Free State of Bavaria, according to which the Taskforce would continue to research the provenance of artworks suspected of unlawful expropriation, even after the expiration of the seizure order. Cornelius Gurlitt simultaneously acknowledged the Washington Principles as they apply to his situation. This means that once expropriation by the NS regime had been proven, ‘fair and just solutions’ - in particular restitution - would be sought for the original owners or their heirs. Under the agreement Cornelius Gurlitt waived his right to use statute of limitations as a legal defence regarding the ‘Schwabing (Munich) Art Trove’.



26 March 2014

Information on the Salzburg find

Cornelius Gurlitt’s custodian (Betreuer) revealed that the Salzburg collection encompassed a total of 238 artworks—39 of which are oil paintings. He also declared that Cornelius Gurlitt agreed to return all artworks identified as looted art to the descendants of their last rightful owners. An anonymous team of experts was appointed by his custodian to inspect the artworks from Salzburg. The appointed civil law attorney was released of his duties.



5 March 2014

The district court extended the custodian’s (Betreuer's) responsibilities

The Munich district court agreed to extend Cornelius Gurlitt’s custodian's (Betreuer's) responsibilities until the end of 2014.



24 and 28 February 2014

Salzburg cache

In Cornelius Gurlitt’s Salzburg residence, further artworks were discovered by his custodian (Betreuer), who displayed some to the press.



19 February 2014

Lawyers filed a complaint

The legal representatives of Cornelius Gurlitt announced that they had filed charges with the Augsburg district court against the seizure order.

(the website has been deleted in the meantime) 

14 February 2014

Bavarian draft bill introduced to Bundesrat

The Bavarian draft bill was introduced to the Bundesrat and was referred to the Bundesrat’s committees for further consideration. The Bundesrat has not yet reached a conclusive resolution.



13/14 February 2014

First meeting of the Taskforce

The first constitutive meeting of the Taskforce took place in Munich. The location where the artworks were being stored was inspected and some of the most notable finds were viewed.

11 February 2014

More artworks found in Salzburg

The legal representatives of Cornelius Gurlitt announced that additional artworks had been found in a house in Salzburg (Austria) belonging to Cornelius Gurlitt. These artworks were not part of the original court-ordered seizure, and were therefore not initially assigned to the Taskforce for further inspection.

(the website has been deleted in the meantime)

3 February 2014

Charges filed against unknown persons

The legal representatives of Cornelius Gurlitt announced that they had filed charges against unknown persons for leaking confidential information to the public from documents related to the investigation.

(the website has been deleted in the meantime) 

28 January 2014

Taskforce announced team members

Once the formal requirements had been clarified in Germany and overseas, the names of the team members appointed to the international Taskforce were made public.

28 January 2014

The Taskforce published details on 458 artworks

The Taskforce published details on 458 artworks from the ‘Schwabing Art Trove’ on the online database Lost Art. Some of these artworks could be attributed to the property of the Gurlitt family while others were classified as ‘degenerate art’. The possibility that the remaining artworks were expropriated under duress cannot be ruled out.

14 January 2014

Conservator appointed legal team

Cornelius Gurlitt’s legal custodian confirmed that three lawyers had been assigned to take care of Cornelius Gurlitt’s affairs. It had been agreed internally that two lawyers would deal with all matters relating to criminal law and one lawyer would be assigned to issues of civil law.

(the website has been deleted in the meantime)

7 January 2014

Proposal for a bill on the restitution of cultural property

Following the public debate about the German statute of limitations giving any private owner of looted artworks a legal right to refuse restitution, the Bavarian Council of Ministers passed a proposal to be tabled at the Bundesrat (upper house of the German parliament) for a bill on the restitution of cultural assets (Kulturgut-Rückgewähr-Gesetz). This draft law proposed that ‘the statute of limitations should not be applicable in cases involving confiscated objects where the current owner acted in bad faith at the time of purchase’. This would not just apply to all cases of art looted by the Nazis, but would be universally valid. The law would be effective retroactively. This draft became a very controversial issue.

23 December 2013

Legal custodian (Betreuer) appointed for C. Gurlitt

A court order issued by the Munich district court assigned a temporary legal custodian to manage the personal affairs and estate of Cornelius Gurlitt (in accordance with § 1913, S. 1 of the German Civil Code BGB). For this reason, the Taskforce could no longer maintain direct contact with Cornelius Gurlitt, losing the opportunity for such exchanges as a long personal discourse between the head of the Taskforce and Cornelius Gurlitt which had taken place earlier in December 2013. The contact person for the Taskforce from this point on was Cornelius Gurlitt’s legal custodian (Betreuer) appointed by the district court.

28 November 2013

More artworks published on Lost Art

The Taskforce announced that the public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg had released an additional 101 artworks for publication on

27 November 2013

Report to the Judiciary Committee of the Bavarian Landtag

Chief prosecutor Reinhard Nemetz announced to the judiciary committee of the Bavarian state parliament (Landtag) that the public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg had attempted on at least ten occasions in January 2013 to make contact with Cornelius Gurlitt. An offer was apparently made to Cornelius Gurlitt that would have allowed for the return of all artworks that rightfully belonged to him. The artworks in question were either made by or dedicated to members of his family, or were created after 1945. Gurlitt requested a deferral at the time for personal reasons and did not subsequently respond to any attempts to contact him by telephone or in writing.

14 November 2013

New information to be published on Lost Art

The head of the Taskforce announced that all works of art suspected of having been looted would be published on Permission from the public prosecutors in Augsburg had already been obtained. The legal situation concerning works of art classified as ‘degenerate art’ was different, however, and permission was not granted by the prosecution to publish details of these artworks. The Taskforce reported that there may be looted artworks among the collection of ‘degenerate art’, which would also need to be investigated.

12 November 2013

First publication on Lost Art

The public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg published details on the website of the first 25 artworks that were suspected to have been acquired in a forced sale or confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution.

11 November 2013

Foundation of the Taskforce

The ‘Schwabing Art Trove’ Taskforce was set up by the German government and the Free State of Bavaria. Its chief objective was to research the origins of the artworks. The project, under the aegis of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz was not granted legal authority, however. The Taskforce was working on behalf of the Augsburg public prosecutors to provide expert assistance. The research into the provenance of the artworks was intended to assist the prosecution’s investigation into the legality of C. Gurlitt's ownership. With regard to the publication of details and the findings of the process, the Taskforce was subject to legal provisions concerning criminal investigations. On account of these restrictions, all persons involved in the case were bound by confidentiality agreements. Dr Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel was appointed head of the Taskforce. Her first task was to appoint an international group of experts to conduct provenance research.



5 November 2013

Augsburg press conference

The public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg released details to the press of the ‘art trove’ found in the apartment in the Munich borough of Schwabing.



4 November 2013

German government

A government spokesperson confirmed that the German federal government had known of the case ‘for several months'.



3 November 2013

First press report

The German news magazine Focus reported on the ongoing investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg.

28 February to 2 March 2012

Search executed

Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment in the Munich borough of Schwabing was searched. According to the public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg, law enforcement officers secured over 1400 objects as evidence, including 121 framed and 1285 unframed artworks. Due to the presumption of innocence applicable in any criminal investigation as well as the issue of tax secrecy, and because police inquiries are not subject to public disclosure, the case was not made public.



23 September 2011

Search warrant issued

The district court in Augsburg granted the public prosecutor a search warrant and seizure order for Cornelius Gurlitt’s apartment in Munich. As part of a request for mutual administrative assistance, the public prosecutor’s office in Augsburg applied for a search warrant for Cornelius Gurlitt’s residence in Salzburg. This application was denied by the Austrian authorities.

22 September 2010

Inspection by customs on the train

Customs officials carrying out a routine inspection searched Cornelius Gurlitt on a train from Zurich to Munich. He was subsequently suspected of having committed a tax offence.