BERLIN - The head of the World Jewish Congress warned a Swiss art museum that it risks an "avalanche" of lawsuits if it accepts the bequest of a collection of artwork amassed by a man who dealt in art for the Nazis.
The Bern Art Museum discovered in May it had been named sole heir of Cornelius Gurlitt, the reclusive son of a man who dealt in so-called "degenerate" art for Adolf Hitler. The Bern museum has yet to decide whether to accept the artwork.
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder said that since Gurlitt's father, Hildebrand, had collected art stolen by the Nazis from Jewish collectors or taken from German state museums, Bern would have a problem on its hands if it accepted the works before their provenance has been fully investigated.
"If this museum in Switzerland gets involved with this inheritance, it will open Pandora's box and unleash an avalanche of lawsuits - possibly from German museums, but certainly from the descendants of the Jewish owners," Lauder said.