Nobody purchases Hitler's artwork at auction

Sale in Germany a flop after most paintings seized and the rest fail to sell.

February 11, 2019 14:55
1 minute read.
A signature is seen on a watercolour of an unknown landscape attributed to former German dictator Ad

A signature is seen on a watercolour of an unknown landscape attributed to former German dictator Adolf Hitler, before an auction at Kloos house at a starting bid of 4,000 Euro (4,548 US Dollars) in Berlin, Germany, January 24, 2019. (photo credit: FABRIZIO BENSCH / REUTERS)


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Nobody seems to want to hang a painting by Adolf Hitler in their living room. Or at least nobody wants to admit it.

A buzzed-about auction last weekend – slated to include dozens of artworks purportedly by the Nazi leader – fizzled out when many of the watercolors were seized by authorities and the remainder failed to sell.

Auktionshaus Weidel in Nuremberg was slated to auction off more than 30 artworks by Hitler this past weekend. They contained drawings and paintings from 1907 to 1936, including a nude drawing Hitler made of his niece, Geli Raubal, in 1929.

But, according to the BBC, German police seized dozens of the works last week under suspicion of being forgeries. The Guardian reported that police confiscated 63 artworks from the auction house – which is many more than were intended for sale – signed by A.H. or A. Hitler, and suspected of being fake.

The Times reported that the auction house was left with five watercolors attributed to Hitler, and not one of them was sold in the auction. According to Deutsche Welle, the auction house did manage to sell a tablecloth and a vase that it said were once owned by Hitler.

In 2015, the same auction house held a sale of Hitler’s artworks, ultimately selling 14 paintings and drawings. According to The Guardian, those works were sold for a total of €391,000; the highest-price work was a painting of a Bavarian castle that sold for €100,000. Over the years, Auktionshaus Weidler has held several similar sales.

Several observers speculated that potential buyers were driven away from this auction after the police seizures and the wave of negative publicity. In a statement, the auction house said the seizure of the paintings does “not automatically mean they are fakes.”

Such auctions, while legal in Germany, have always generated controversy. A similar auction last month in Berlin was halted when police seized three watercolors purportedly painted by Hitler over forgery suspicions.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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