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Brother of dealer at center of Nazi art mystery hands over own collection

  • Germany Art Found_Cham.jpg

    November 12, 2013: Photo provided by the Augsburg, southern Germany, prosecution shows a painting 'Reiter am Strand' ('Riders at the Beach') by German artist Max Liebermann from 1901 that was among the more than 1400 art works that were seized by German authorities in an apartment in Munich in February 2012. Investigators, aided by a leading art historian, are trying to establish the artworks' legal status and history. It's unclear how many of the works might be subject to return to pre-World War II owners. (AP Photo/Staatsanwaltschaft Augsburg)

  • Germany Art Found_Cham640.jpg

    November 12, 2013: Photo provided by the Augsburg, southern Germany, prosecution shows the painting by French artist Henry Matisse 'Sitzende Frau' ('Sitting Woman') that was among the more than 1400 art works that were seized by German authorities in an apartment in Munich in February 2012. (AP Photo/Staatsanwaltschaft Augsburg)

The brother of a Munich art dealer at the center of an investigation into art looted by the Nazis has handed over his own collection to German authorities.

The German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung reported Monday that 22 more works, including paintings by Pablo Picasso and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, had been turned over by the 80-year-old brother of Cornelius Gurlitt, who told police that he was worried about their safety due to the extensive media coverage of the larger Munich collection. The paper reported that the brother, whose name has not been released, kept the paintings in his home in Kornwestheim, north of Stuttgart. 

Last month, it came to light that German authorities had seized more than 1,400 paintings, drawings, and prints from Gurlitt's home in February 2012 as part of a tax investigation. Among the artists represented in the collection were Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse. 

The Munich haul, collected by Gurlitt's father, Hildebrand, included works that had been branded "degenerate" by the Nazis and removed from state museums. In response to international pressure for more information about the collection, the German government said Monday that it believes that 590 of the artworks may have been stolen or bought at cut-rate prices from Jews forced to sell under duress during the Third Reich. 

Authorities have posted 25 paintings on a website -- www.lostart.de -- which crashed Tuesday due to the number of people who logged on, according to Sabine Kramer from the government-run Lost Art Internet Database.

"There are simply too many people who want to look at the pictures and that's why we're facing technical problems," Kramer told the Associated Press.

As German officials scrambled to respond to criticism that they have been slow to make details public, several families came forward to stake their claims. Among them were the heirs of Fritz Salo Glaser, a Jewish lawyer from Dresden, who a lawyer says owned 13 of the 25 paintings listed online.

Lawyer Sabine Rudolph, who represents Glaser's heirs, said that when the Nazis no longer allowed Glaser to work as a lawyer after 1933, he had to sell his art collection to make a living.

"The family, who still lives in Dresden, is very happy about the art found and of course they want them back," Rudolph told The Associated Press, adding that she already had asked Augsburg prosecutors for access to the records.

Among the paintings listed online as formerly belonging to Glaser posted are Otto Griebel's "Child at the Table," a water color featuring a red-cheeked boy with tousled blond hair, and Conrad Felixmueller's "Couple in a Landscape," which shows a man and a woman in front of pine trees and a birch painted in an expressionist style.

Chris Marinello, a lawyer for the family of Paris art dealer Paul Rosenberg, said that he had sent a letter of claim to Augsburg for Matisse's "Woman Sitting in an Armchair" and was "going through the information that has been released" about the newly identified works.

A lawyer for the heirs to late Jewish collector Alfred Flechtheim said that while none of the 25 pieces published online belonged to Flechtheim, he had contacted Augsburg prosecutors and demanded that all the paintings should be exhibited as quickly as possible.

"Two years ago, Cornelius Gurlitt sold a painting that his father bought from Flechtheim in 1934, when he was already on the run from the Nazis," lawyer Markus Stoetzel said. "So we have reason to believe that there may be more Flechtheim paintings in the Gurlitt collection."

Other paintings posted online included works that had already been showcased at a press conference last week by Augsburg prosecutors, among them an allegorical scene by Chagall and "Horses in a Landscape" by Franz Marc.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.