At the end of November 2013, we had a guest post from Professor Matthias Weller, in which he shared his views on the Gurlitt matter as a follow-up to the the panel discussion at the VII. Heidelberg Art Law Conference. Matthias Weller has explored the topic in more detail in an article just published in the most recent issue of Kunst und Recht: Art Law on the Text Bench: The “Schwabing Art Find” at the Interface of Criminal Prosecution and Property Law (Kunstrecht auf dem Prüfstand: Der “Schwabinger Kunstfund” an der Schnittstelle von Strafverfolgung und Sachenrecht), KUR 2013, 183.
Matthias Weller expands upon his theory that, under German property law, due to the seizure by the public prosecution (Staatsanwaltschaft), Cornelius Gurlitt now lost possession, and the prescription of restitution claims against Cornelius Gurlitt does not affect new claims of the owners against the public prosecution in their capacity as new possessors. Hence, the prosecutors did potential claimants a favour by seizing the art works, and opened up new civil law remedies of the owners.
The same KUR issue contains a further Piece on the Gurlitt case: Ulf Bischof, KUR’s editor, comments upon Mr. Gurlitt’s ethical obligations alongside any legal obligations (Ein Kommentar zum Schwabinger Kunstfund – “Herr Gurlitt trägt neben rechtlichen auch moralische Verpflichtungen”, KUR 2013, 179).