Cornelius Gurlitt, 81, a reclusive German collector whose long-secret hoard of well more than 1,000 artworks triggered an uproar over the fate of art looted by the Nazis, died Tuesday at his Munich apartment. He had asked to return there after being hospitalized for major heart surgery.

He was thrust into the spotlight in November when authorities, after a report by the German magazine Focus, disclosed they had seized 1,280 works by artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall from the Munich apartment more than a year earlier. They had discovered the works while investigating suspected import tax evasion. Some of the pieces were previously unknown.

Mr. Gurlitt had inherited the collection from his father, Hildebrand, an art dealer who traded in works confiscated by the Nazis and who died in 1956.

After much back and forth, Mr. Gurlitt agreed last month to a deal with the German government, under which hundreds of works owned by the collector would be checked for a Nazi-era past while staying in government hands. - AP