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German court approves return of paintings from Gurlitt trove

BERLIN (AP) — A court handling the late art collector Cornelius Gurlitt’s inheritance says it has formally authorized the return of the first two paintings from his trove to their rightful owners’ descendants.

The Munich district court said Tuesday it approved the handover of Henri Matisse’s “Woman Sitting in an Armchair” and Max Liebermann’s “Two Riders on the Beach” after both potential heirs to Gurlitt’s collection endorsed the move. It said it couldn’t specify to whom the paintings would be released, and where, because of data protection laws.

Germany’s government signed restitution agreements for the works in March.

Gurlitt died last May. A Swiss museum that accepted Gurlitt’s bequest of his collection and a cousin who challenged his will both promised to ensure any Nazi-looted pieces are returned to their Jewish owners’ heirs.

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