Fourteen watercolours and drawings by Adolf Hitler have fetched a total of €391,000 (£280,000) at a controversial auction in Nuremberg.
A view of Bavaria’s famous fairytale castle Neuschwanstein brought the highest price of €100,000 (£71,500) at the auction on Saturday, while a still life of a bunch of carnations fetched €73,000. The other works, all painted or drawn between 1904 and 1922, and most of which are signed “A Hitler”, included views of various buildings in Vienna, an image of Prague in the fog, and a female nude.
According to the Weidler auction house, the bidders were investors in China, France, Brazil, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. Auctioneer Kathrin Weidler told DPA news agency: “These collectors do not specialise in this painter, but have a general interest in high-value art.”
There is no law against the sale of Hitler’s art works in Germany as long as they do not show any Nazi symbols, but press commentators have questioned the morality of allowing such auctions to go ahead.
The Weidler auction house has previously defended the sale of Hitler’s paintings on the grounds that they represented “historical documents”. In November 2014, Weidler also sold Hitler’s painting of a Munich register office for €130,000 – the high price was attributed to the original sales bill that came with it.
In 2009, Mullock’s auction house in Shropshire sold 15 of Hitler’s paintings for a total of £97,672.
Few in Germany want to be seen making a profit from the Nazi dictator’s work. The Bavarian state archive, which owns some of Hitler’s work, has a policy of not paying for the works, but accepts them as donations in order to take them out of circulation.
Last November, the head of the auction house, Herbert Weidler, promised to give some of the proceeds of the sale of Hitler’s Munich painting to charity, saying that if none accepted the offer, the local civic preservation society Altstadtfreunde Nürnberg (“Friends of the old city of Nuremberg”) would be given the money.
The chairman of the society, Karl-Heinz Enderle, immediately expressed surprise at the presumption that he would accept the donation, and told local media that he had no intention of taking it.
The Nazi dictator is thought to have produced hundreds of art works as a young man when he was eking out a living in Munich and Vienna, but there are also thought to be many forgeries on the market.
“Since Hitler had no style of his own as a painter, but generally just copied, it is very difficult to be sure what is by Hitler,” Vienna art historian Birgit Schwarz told Die Welt newspaper last year.
by Ben Knight
Source: The Guardian