It’s being called the biggest recovery of lost art from World War II: a flat in Munich turned out to be a veritable treasure trove, hiding €1b worth of art stolen by the Nazis, the BBC report. It's like a scene taken directly from The Monuments Men - George Clooney's forthcoming movie about....well....Nazi-stolen art.

John Goodman George ClooneyHas George Clooney been method acting? Here he is in Monuments men alongside John Goodman

Works from Matisse, Picasso and Chagall are said to be amongst the 1500 artworks confiscated, under Hitler’s Nazi regime, in the 1930s. Some were labelled as ‘degenerate’, some were stolen, and some were forcibly stolen for a mere fraction of their true worth.

A spokesman for German customs said: “We were stunned. From floor to ceiling, from bedroom to bathroom, were piles of old food in tins, much of it from the 80s. And behind it all these pictures worth hundreds of millions of euros.”

The artworks made their way into the hands of a German art collector, Hildebrand Gurlitt. When Gurlitt died, the artworks were passed down to his son, Cornelius, all without the knowledge of the authorities.

Cornelius is reported to have kept himself going by selling the odd piece, trying not to alert the authorities. He is thought to have sold the Lion Tamer by Beckmann on 2 December 2011. The painting was sold for €864,000 at an auction house in Cologne.

Gwendolen Webster - an art historian who has spent time studying works from the Nazis' "degenerate art" collection – explained to the Guardian that the significance of the find was "absolutely staggering for historians". He added that legally, it was a minefield.

The story comes as a movie surrounding the dissipation of Jewish culture gets a major delay. The Monuments Men – starring George Clooney and Matt Damon – has been pushed back to next year, meaning it won’t be eligible for The Oscars.