Art museum (stock image)
Art museum (stock image)ISTOCK

The $91.5 million re-opening of one of Scotland’s most well known museum is up in the air after questions began swirling around just how much of its art can be traced to theft by the Nazis.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, at least two works at The Burrell Collection – which was given to the museum in 1944 – have been traced to German Jewish owners who had their art collections stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s. Glasgow city council paid thousands of pounds in compensation to the heirs of the owners.

However, a new book – “A Collector’s Life: William Burrell” by Glasgow Museums curator Martin Bellamy – alleges that more of the museum’s priceless works were stolen or forcibly sold during the Nazi era.

The charity that runs the museum, Glasgow Life, has confirmed that the claims in the book are factual. But they have not divulged which pieces of art are in question.

“I suggest that the point to be made is that this isn’t a question of law, but morals,” Ephraim Borowski of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities told the Chronicle. “Given the scale of the Holocaust, there may be no surviving family members to make a formal legal claim.

“It’s up to public galleries to acknowledge the dubious history of items in their collection,” he added.

In the book, Bellamy writes that Sir William Burrell knew of the doubtful provenance of some of his art purchases, which he noted down in notepads where he recorded the history, description and price of each artwork.

Glasgow Life said in a statement: “There is nothing to suggest Sir William Burrell was made aware works he was buying originated from forced sales.”