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Heir to Nazi-era hoard of priceless paintings Cornelius Gurlitt dead at 81

Published on May 7, 2014 1:56 AM
File photo of the name plate on the house of art collector Cornelius Gurlitt in Salzburg. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (AFP) - The reclusive German son of a Nazi-era art dealer who hoarded hundreds of priceless paintings in his Munich flat for decades including works plundered from Jews died Tuesday aged 81.

Cornelius Gurlitt died "in his apartment in Schwabing, in the presence of a doctor," his spokesman Stephan Holzinger said in a statement, referring to an upscale district of Munich.

Holzinger said Gurlitt had recently undergone serious heart surgery and after spending a week in hospital, asked to return to his home where he had lived among long-lost masterpieces by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall until the collection came to the attention of the authorities two years ago.

Gurlitt had last month struck an accord with the German government to help track down the rightful owners of pieces in his trove of 1,280 artworks, including Jews whose property was stolen or extorted under the Third Reich.

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