In February 2012, in a Munich flat belonging to an elderly recluse, German customs authorities seized an astonishing hoard of art. Cornelius Gurlitt's trove, inherited from his father Hildebrand, art dealer to the Nazi regime, caused a worldwide media sensation.
Here, Catherine Hickley uncovers the story behind the headlines. She takes us from the street-corner battles of Kristallnacht in Breslau, Silesia, to modern-day Madison Avenue in New York; from the charred ruins of post-war Dresden to the current cosy prosperity of the Swiss capital Berne. We witness the shady dealings of the Paris art world in the 1940s and listen in on political debates in modern-day Berlin, as politicians and lawyers puzzle over the inadequacies of a legal framework that to this day falls short in securing justice for the heirs of those robbed by the Nazis.
'A comprehensive narrative … meticulously lays out the spidery network of ties, lies and fears that helped Gurlitt save his own skin'
'Hickley tells the story of the Gurlitts, as well as of the efforts made by some of the heirs of the works’ original owners to get them back, with forensic attentiveness to detail'
'A splendid account of skulduggery … a riveting read'
'Catherine Hickley knows her subject inside out … excellent'