Gurlitt Case :

29 January 2014 Summary of Decision of Augsburg Administrative Court that the Contents of the Gurlitt Collection be Published

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Decision: The Administrative Court issued an interim order on 29.1.14 that the Augsburg public prosecutor surrender a list of Gurlitt pictures to a reporter from a daily newspaper. Furthermore, the reporter must be informed which potential owners of which paintings have been identified and contacted. The Court refused a request that the names of the potential owners be disclosed.

Grounds: The Court affirmed the right of access of the reporter on the basis of the Bavarian press law. The Court rejected the prosecution argument that the right to information would run counter to tax secrecy on the grounds that the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press had superior force. Further, there was deemed to be a substantial public interest in the Gurlitt collection. In addition, the argument for tax secrecy has no force given that the public has already been given the name of the owner of the collection, his address and the approximate number of pictures owned by him. It was not considered clear to what extent the publication of the list with an exact description and specification of the dimensions of the Gurlitt works could affect a criminal investigation. The same applies to the right to information with respect to the identity of the works whose possible owners were already identified and whether contact had already been made. However, only the potential owners can decide whether and to what extent they go public or make contact with the press.

The Augsburg public prosecutor lodged an appeal with the Bavarian Administrative Court.
Augsburg, Decision of 29.1.2014 , Az: Au 7 E 13.2018

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