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February 18, 2015

Will Dispute Holds Up Bequest of Nazi-Era Dealer's Art Trove

The Kunstmuseum Bern in Switzerland has been unable to take possession of a collection of works bequeathed to it by the son of a Nazi-era art dealer, Cornelius Gurlitt, due to a legal fight over the late donor's will, according to The New York Times. Uta Werner, a cousin of Mr. Gurlitt, filed a court challenge to his will in November, hours before the museum announced it would accept the donation of some 1,600 works, many believed to have been looted from Jewish owners under the Third Reich.

Mr. Gurlitt died at age 81 in May, two years after the trove was discovered in his Munich apartment by German tax authorities. The collection, which includes works by Renoir, Cezanne, Monet, and Manet, was amassed by Mr. Gurlitt's father, an art dealer for Adolf Hitler. The Swiss museum said that until the will dispute is resolved it is legally prevented from fulfilling its pledge to research the works' provenance and return those deemed to have been stolen by the Nazis to the heirs of former owners.