Ute Werner, Gurlitt’s 86 year-old cousin, has challenged the Will on the basis that he lacked testamentary capacity to make the Will. Made in the last few weeks of his life, Gurlitt’s Will appoints the Kunstmuseum Bern as his sole heir, despite having no apparentprevious links to the museum. Ms Werner has applied to the Court in Munich for a certificate of inheritance and a decision is not expected to be made until later this year.
If Ms Werner were to succeed and become the heir to Gurlitt’s Will, this would have ramifications not only for the Kunstmuseum Bern, but also for claimants seeking restitution of the paintings. For example, a US lawsuit has been filed by David Toren regarding a claim to Max Liebermann, Zwei Reiter am Strand. This will have to be put on hold pending the decision of the Munich Court, as if the painting were to be returned before then, and Ms Werner were to succeed, then there could be a dispute over ownership of the painting.
The Kunstmuseum Bern is reportedly confident, but one commentator has said that will amendments have been set aside in far less unusual circumstances than those of the last few months of Gurlitt’s life, and his decision to appoint the Kunstmuseum Bern as his sole heir. Watch this space.