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German Parliament Probes Art Provenance Amid Nazi Booty Report

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Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Germany’ parliament said it’s investigating the provenance of two works of art in its collection after a report in Bild newspaper that the paintings had been looted under the Nazis.

No confirmation of the presence of looted art in the Bundestag was given to Bild and no newly-“discovered Nazi-looted art” exists in the buildings used by German lawmakers in Berlin, the press office said in an e-mailed statement.

There are “two suspected cases that are currently being scrutinized by an art historian,” the press office said. The Bundestag “hopes to have completed the ongoing investigations by March/April of 2014” and will publish the results, it said.

The two works are by Georg Waltenberger and Lovis Corinth, with the latter item stemming from the collection of the Gurlitt family, Bild said today in an article without citing anyone. Cornelius Gurlitt, whose collection of 1,406 artworks was seized by German authorities, is demanding its return, Spiegel magazine reported in November.

“The art historian involved has no evidence so far that one of the paintings has any connection to the Gurlitt collection,” the Bundestag said. Bild’s claim that “108 works of art with unknown origin and under suspicion of having been stolen” are present in the Bundestag, is “false,” it said.

The Bundestag welcomes the clarification of the origins of its works of art and therefore initiated the provenance research in 2012, the press department said. The art collection will be checked thoroughly to identify looted art cases and possibly initiate restitution, it said.

Families of Jewish collectors whose artworks were confiscated or sold under duress in the Nazi era have filed claims for their looted works to the Augsburg prosecutor, who is investigating Gurlitt.

The German government is publishing details of the 590 works that may have been stolen on the database lostart.de.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rainer Buergin in Berlin at rbuergin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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