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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

The sale of Hitler paintings is an evil business ( part 2)

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

Transactions under the mantle

Most of the works sold in auction houses are authenticated by experts, but in this area too, traffickers of all kinds profit from the ignorance of certain collectors. In his "reference" Hitler. Sämtliche Aufzeichnungen 1905 bis 1924 ("Hitler, All Archives 1905-1924"), the so-called specialist August Priesack had certified as original 76 false paintings by Konrad Kujau. The Austrian art dealer Peter Jahn has issued hundreds of certificates of authenticity for paintings of the dictator, but his multiple convictions for fraud leave a huge doubt about the seriousness of his work.

This market however continues to grow year by year. "There are people around the world who want to buy works related to Hitler," says the founder of Kujau-Kabinett. It is found in particular in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and France. These people are not art collectors but people who want to acquire a piece of history. Many are right-wing activists. Most transactions are under the mantle, which facilitates abuse. You find every two months on sites like militaria 321 , paintings whose paint is still fresh that are signed "AA". "

The amounts of certain sales in auction also attracted unscrupulous people looking for comfortable gains. In November 2014, a watercolor entitled Standesamt und Altes Rathaus Muenchen ("The Registry Office and the Old Town Hall of Munich"), allegedly painted by Hitler, was bought $ 150 000 by a buyer who wished to remain anonymous at an organized auction by ... Weidler. Five other paintings of the former leader of the Nazi Party had also been awarded that day for sums of between $ 6,000 and $ 100,000. The same house managed to sell the following year 14 works of the Führer for the modest sum of $ 450 000. This surge in prices could, however, come to an end over the years.

What is the future for this market?

"This market will stop growing because the fascination with the Third Reich is declining over time ," says Marc-Oliver Boger. Young people are totally mocking the Nazi regime. Collectors who now buy paintings allegedly painted by Hitler are slowly getting older and there will soon be only the most radical extremists to want to acquire such paintings. "As soon as a painting or an object is considered art, it is not illegal to sell it in Germany even if it contains typically Nazi symbols like swastikas,warns the founder of Kujau-Kabinett. Austria is less permissive. " Art dealers and auction houses can therefore continue to provide legally watercolors signed Hitler. The fear of buying a fake and the increasingly advanced age of "collectors" will in fine put a brake on the growth of this questionable market.

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