After Thursday’s presentation of the interim report of the German task force set up in 2013 to check if art works found at the home of the late Cornelius Gurlitt were looted by the Nazis, World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder said the results of the investigation were “meager and not satisfactory.”
Since November 2013, a special task force was checking Gurlitt's trove, which includes more than 1,200 works found at his Munich apartment plus around 250 at his property in Salzburg. The task force chair Ingeborg Berggreen-Merkel submitted her final report Thursday to German Culture Minister Monika Grütters.
Research into the trove will be continued by the government-backed German Center for Lost Cultural Goods. Grütters said the effort would be led by a senior task force member, assuring continuity.
Ronald Lauder lamented “the persistent lack of transparency and communication about the work of the task force” and said he “expected Germany to do better, given that time is running out.”
The WJC president declared: “The interim report presented today shows that a lot of work has been done on analyzing the artworks in the Gurlitt trove, but this is about the only positive news. Without any doubt: The work is far from completed.
“The task force could have progressed much more had its leadership managed the process properly. We are concerned that the framework for further research at the German Center for Lost Cultural Goods remains totally unclear.”
“The fact that an interim report was presented today by the task force’s director, without approval of the task force’s experts who worked on it, is emblematic of the failures throughout the process: lack of transparency and organizational disorder including funding will not do historical justice to the victims.
“We stand ready to assist Germany and the Center in its work, but we need to have the commitment by the German authorities that the job will be done now. Waiting longer is not a credible option, but a slap in the face of the claimants,” said Lauder.
Of the 500 works in the Gurlitt trove that are under suspicion of being looted art and whose provenance the task force has been checking since 2013, only five have so far been identified as Nazi-looted and only two restituted to their rightful owners.