Cornelius Gurlitt, the hoarder of more than $1 billion worth of Nazi-looted art who had agreed to return all the works to their original owners or their descendants, has died.
The art works had been discovered in February 2012 when German police raided Gurlitt's Munich apartment as part of an investigation into possible tax evasion. Gurlitt got the art from his father, who had been a buyer and seller of the so-called "degenerate art" on Hitler's orders during the Nazi era.
Now, Gurlitt's spokesman Stephan Holzinger confirmed that the 81-year-old had returned home after a complicated heart operation and passed away in the Munich flat that had been home to the art collection for decades. His death comes one month after he signed an agreement with the German government to return any art works that will be proven to have been stolen during the Nazi era.
"He will be rightly recognized and respected for taking this step," German Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said in a statement.
For his part, Gurlitt had insisted he was "giving nothing back willingly."