A formerly unknown picture by German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner entitled
A formerly unknown picture by German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner entitled "Melancholic Girl" is projected on a screen during a news conference in Augsburg, southern Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, abiut an art find in Munich . The hoard of 1,400 works of art found by tax investigators in a German apartment offers a treasure trove for historians, bringing to light previously unknown works by masters such as Marc Chagall Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Henri Matisse. (AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson)

Munich (dpa) – Germany’s official website for lost or stolen World War II art crashed Tuesday after posting the names of 25 works thought to have been seized by Nazis – including watercolours by Otto Dix and a drawing by Eugene Delacroix – and found stashed last year in a Munich apartment.

The website, www.lostart.de, was overwhelmed by the intense public interest in the artwork found in the home Cornelius Gurlitt, an elderly recluse who has not been seen since the story broke earlier this month. A first list of the suspected Nazi-stolen art was published on the website Monday as a task force of experts work to identify the more than 1,400 paintings found in his apartment in 2012.

American Generals inspect artworks looted by Nazis. April 12, 1945. Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George Patton, with art treasures stolen by Germans and hidden in salt mine in Germany. April 12, 1945.
American Generals inspect artworks looted by Nazis. April 12, 1945. Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George Patton, with art treasures stolen by Germans and hidden in salt mine in Germany. April 12, 1945. Photo: dpa

Marc Chagall, Carl Spitzweg and Henri Matisse were also among the 25 listed on the website. While mostly modern art, the collection also includes older artists such as Antonio Canaletto.

Gurlitt financed himself by selling the works from time to time. His father, who was a leading Nazi-era art trader, had claimed they had all been destroyed in World War II. Works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and Max Beckmann are reported to be among the other pieces found in Gurlitt’s home.  A taskforce is to examine some 970 of the 1,400 in order to trace their origins. Of the works to be examined, 380 are works that would have been dubbed “degenerate” by Nazi censors, officials said.

Germany has been criticized for being too slow to publicize details of the trove of works found in Gurlitt’s apartment as part of a tax fraud investigation.  A spokesman for the Bavarian Justice Ministry would not say what would happen to the art, but the matter could be taken up in civil court.

A German art historian said Tuesday that there is no legal basis in the country for the restitution of the works.  There’s “no opposing interpretation of the law” that states that the art should not continue to sit in the private collection of Gurlitt, according to Will Korte, who specializes in Nazi-confiscated art.

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