Hitler Paintings Sell At Auction

A British auction house sold a series of 13 watercolors on Thursday, April 23, 2009, painted by Adolph Hitler during the years 1908 and 1914, when the young man lived in Vienna. Richard Westwood-Brookes, of Mullock’s Auctioneers, speculated that had Mr. Hitler been “accepted into the Vienna Academy, which was where he wanted to be, … then we would have known him today as an artist and not as an evil tyrant.”

The paintings are said to have been brought to Great Britain by a soldier who had served with the Royal Manchester Regiment, when it was stationed in the German city of Essen in 1945. The soldier sold the paintings to a collector, who then stored them in his garage for the past 60 years.

As the Associated Press astutely reports,

Best known as the genocidal dictator who butchered millions in his quest to unite Europe under German rule, Hitler also had a largely unsuccessful career as an artist in his early years. He is believed to have painted hundreds of pieces, although most art critics have been unmoved.

The 13 paintings and a collection of official Nazi magazines sold for 97,672 pounds ($143,358).

See Also:
Reputed Hitler watercolors sell at English auction [AP; April 23, 2009]
Hitler paintings sold for 95,589 pounds [AFP; April 23, 2009]

Arnold Schwarzenegger Returns California’s Nazi Loot

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on hand on April 10, 2009, when two paintings belonging to the state were returned to the grandchildren of their original owners. Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer, who owned a gallery in Berlin, fled to France in 1933 to escape Nazi persecution. The Nazis auctioned off 100 paintings from the Oppenheimer’s collection in 1935, to raise money for Reichfluchtsteuer, a “flight” tax designed to strip Jews of all of their assets.

Two of the paintings, “Portrait of Alvise Vendramin” and “Portrait of a Bearded Gentleman,” ended up in the collection of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. They were on display at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, which was deeded to the state of California in 1972 to become part of the state park system.

The families of the Oppenheimers two daughters fled Germany in 1940. Jakob Oppenheimer died in France in 1941. His wife Rosa was taken from France by its German occupiers to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where she died in November 1943.

The father of Austrian-born Governor Schwarzenegger was a member of the Nazi Party. Returning the paintings on the second day of Passover to Peter Bloch, 73, of Boynton Beach, Florida, and Inge Blackshear, 73, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the governor said, “”I am humbled to play a role in undoing this terrible wrong for the heirs of Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer,” adding that the Holocaust was “one of the darkest crimes against humanity in the modern era.”

See Also:
Hearst Castle paintings given to owners’ heirs [SF Gate; April 11, 2009]
Calif. returns art to heirs of Holocaust victims [AP; April 11, 2009]