Dealing with the Devil
Cornelius Gurlitt, the elderly Munich hermit who was discovered in 2011 to possess in his apartment a stupendous trove of more than 1,400 artistic masterworks looted during World War II, recounts his fascinating family history. The film examines the bizarre case of Gurlitt’s father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, a Dresden art dealer of Jewish descent who was tasked by Joseph Goebbels with the job of seizing and selling off modern “degenerate” art and acquiring in its place the classical paintings favored by Hitler and his inner circle. Directed by Stéphane Bentura, Dealing with the Devil questions the complicity, even today, of major French auction houses in the marketing of paintings that were either sold under duress or stolen outright from Jewish families and art dealers. The film brilliantly exposes the denial and willful blindness of sectors of the contemporary art world, which prefer normalization of the existing market to the pursuit of justice.