Hitler's Art Thief Book Cover

Hitler’s Art Thief

When the New York Times picked up the story of Cornelius Gurlitt in November 2012, it was already ‘old news’ to Susan Ronald, who’d had a first brush with the name Gurlitt in the late 1990s. HITLER’S ART THIEF – HILDEBRAND GURLITT, THE NAZIS AND THE LOOTING OF EUROPE’S TREASURES is the result of painstaking original research into how Hildebrand Gurlitt became Hitler’s Art Thief, and the unbelievable legacy left in the hands of his son Cornelius. The book examines three generations of Gurlitts and answers many questions raised by the international press in uncovering the single greatest treasure trove of Nazi looted art discovered in private hands since the war. The book was published by St. Martin’s Press in the USA on 22nd September 2015.

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For more on Hitler’s Art Thief, see below:


Here’s the You Tube link for my comment on BBC Newsnight (23rd June 2015) on the London Sotheby’s Auction of the Max Liebermann painting Two Riders on the Beach. The painting sold for £1.865 million on 24th June and was the first painting from the Gurlitt art hoard to be put up for auction by the heirs represented by David Toren. For the Newsnight segment go to: https://youtu.be/eZy5fVJq-OA


Mel Urbach, International Holocaust Restitution Lawyer and lecturer based in New York says the book is:

A thrilling voyage into the largest theft in history that started during early Nazi terror and went dormant after the war. In 2011 an Alfred Flechtheim looted painting “The Lion Tamer” mysteriously appeared for sale in Germany. Susan Ronald unravels the secretive Gurlitt role in Hitler’s Art Thief, a must-read masterpiece, exposing the unsavory reality of the insatiable Nazi greed for art and the continuing resistance to return artifacts to the victims.


Jonathan Petropoulos, John V. Croul Professor of European History, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont California says:

Susan Ronald tells the story of Hildebrand Gurlitt, one of the most important and elusive art dealers of the twentieth century, and how he manipulated both the Nazi authorities and the Allied restitution officials in ways that made him a very wealthy man (with over 1,400 pictures in his possession at the time of his death). Exhibiting keen psychological insight and utilizing her experience as a banker to undertake deft forensic accounting, Ronald shows how Gurlitt embezzled during the Third Reich and then concealed his treasures in the postwar period.  Experts are still piecing together this complex history (and restituting the stolen works). Ronald’s sweeping, and indeed, galloping narrative, breaks new ground in helping to understand this fascinating figure and the historical context in which he operated.

Dr Amanda Foreman, FRSA, Columnist for The Sunday Times, The Wall Street JournalSmithsonian Magazine and Senior Visiting Scholar Queen Mary, University of London. Co-founder, House of SpeakEasy: www.HouseofSpeakEasy.org:

Hitler’s Art Thief is absolutely gripping from start to finish. Susan Ronald holds nothing back as she lays bare in merciless detail the cunning, greed and hypocrisy that allowed Hitler’s willing accomplices, like the notorious Hildebrand Gurlitt, to feed off human misery to their heart’s content. Everyone should read this book.

Richard Aronowitz-Mercer, Director & Head of Restitution Department, Europe for Sotheby’s says:

Susan Ronald has written what will prove to be one of, if not the, definitive accounts of the whole Gurlitt saga. Giving its readers a thorough overview of the 19th– and 20th-century Gurlitt dynasty’s engagement in art – as scholars, dealers and collectors – yet never losing its lightness of touch, deftly managing to span place and time with abundant insight, the book is a pleasure to read.

From the Plundered art Blogspot:


From The Jewish Week:


From Forward:


From Booklist:

Booklist 9.15.pdf

From The Library Journal:

In 2013, more than 1,400 pieces of art were discovered in the modest Munich apartment of 80-year-old Cornelius Gurlitt, son of Hitler’s “art dealer” Hildebrand Gurlitt. The art was valued at more than $1.35 billion, but to the reclusive Cornelius, they weren’t just paintings—they were “friends.” For victims of the greatest art heist in history, however, they were stolen tokens of the Third Reich. Ronald (The Pirate Queen) provides a remarkably comprehensive telling of the Nazi’s massive looting of treasured artworks and the pivotal role the Gurlitts played. Although considered Hitler’s art dealer, Hildebrand is best described in the book’s title. Ronald’s narrative follows Hildebrand from student to thief and eventually finds its end in Cornelius’s mysterious apartment. VERDICT There are countless works related to Nazi Germany, but Ronald’s account provides an additional layer of knowledge that’s worth adding to your collection. Readers will gain a larger understanding of how art threads through society, what it means when those threads are unraveled, and the tragic effects of having your culture stolen and repurposed. They aren’t just paintings, indeed. 


More reviews to come…

Additional News…

Dr Jürgen Nitsche, local Zwickau historian has written a book translated into English about Georg Manasse, one of the local industrialists who bought art from Gurlitt in the period 1925-1930: http://www.hentrichhentrich.de/suche.html