Gurlitt, 80, inherited the artworks from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, who was one of the few art dealers selected by Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich minister of public enlightenment and propaganda, to sell the Modernist works banned by the Nazis as "degenerate" to foreign buyers. The elder Gurlitt allegedly kept some of the artworks and passed them on to his son.
Customs officials discovered and confiscated Cornelius Gurlitt's hoard of paintings during a tax-evasion investigation Feb. 28, 2012.
Speaking for the first time since the artworks were taken from him, Cornelius Gurlitt told Spiegel Online that he's in love with his artworks and he doesn't understand why he's receiving so much attention.
"What do these people want from me? I'm just a very quiet person. All I wanted to do was live with my pictures. Why are they photographing me for these newspapers, which normally only feature photos of shady characters?" he said.
Cornelius Gurlitt, who never married, told Spiegel "there is nothing I have loved more in my life than my pictures."