BERLIN — The German government Monday said it was informed months ago about what is reported to be a valuable trove of art discovered in a Munich apartment and thought to be a collection of works confiscated under the Nazis.
The German news magazine Focus, which broke the story Sunday, said the works were in the possession of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of an art dealer who was among the few authorized by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda chief, to sell confiscated works for the Nazi regime.
Hundreds of works, which Focus said included paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Franz Marc, and Max Beckmann, were reportedly found in 2011 by unsuspecting customs officials investigating Gurlitt for suspected tax evasion. The magazine estimated the worth of the find at $1.4 billion.
“The federal government was informed several months ago about the case,” said Steffen Seibert, a government spokesman.
Neither Seibert nor a spokesman for the finance ministry had any information about claims on the works.
The Bavarian customs authorities, who Focus said now hold the hundreds of paintings in a facility in Garching, near Munich, declined to comment.
But Matthias Nickolai, a spokesman for state prosecutors in Augsburg, who are handling the case, said senior officials would meet with reporters to discuss the trove Tuesday.