13 December 2013:
The Task Force has stated its role, in correspondence, as not only conducting provenance research but as establishing the factual basis for legal decisions to be taken by the Augsburg Prosecutor and the German courts in any claim.
On lostart.de, potential claimants or enquirers about works of art in the Gurlitt collection are asked to write to the Augsburg Prosecutor whose contact details are provided.
They receive a response, not from the Prosecutor, but from Uwe Hartmann, 'Scientific Head of the Task Force'. The role of the Task Force had been stated to be that of establishing the provenance of the works of art - that is, the history of ownership. However, Dr Hartmann's email states that the Task Force's role is to go beyond that and establish the factual basis for legal decisions and that their findings will be provided to the Prosecutor and any court. This could materially affect the position of claimants The email reads:
‘The Task Force consists of several qualified experts for provenance research and legally acts on the basis of “administrative assistance” for the Public Attorney’s Office of Augsburg. Within this scope, the experts of this Task Force are currently researching the provenance of those artworks seized in Mr Gurlitt’s apartment which are required to be examined for the purpose of the Public Attorney’s investigations. All these artworks are successively shown at www.lostart.de on behalf of the Public Attorney’s Office of Augsburg. The Task Force is supposed to be contacted instead of the Public Attorney’s Office for all questions, especially by possible claimants, with regard to these artworks.
Any evidence relevant to the provenance of these artworks may be sent directly to the central email address email@example.com The more detailed and substantive any shared information is, the more helpful it can be for the work of our experts.
Please apologize that answering your request individually will take considerable time due to the high number of requests and the complex and extensive research which is required in respect of all artworks. Please be assured that the Task Force handles your request as speedily as possible.
In order to avoid misunderstandings we would like to clarify that the Task Force cannot decide legal claims, but conducts a fact-finding mission in order to provide the factual basis for such decisions. Court procedures, where necessary, cannot be replaced by lodging claims towards the Task Force.
Thank you very much for your understanding!
Dr. Uwe Hartmann
Taskforce "Schwabinger Kunstfund"
Tel.: 030-266 426930
Fax: 030-266 426932