Photo: AP
Controversial auction
Photo: AP

English auction house selling Hitler paintings

Watercolors, sketches attributed to Nazi leader sold to private buyers in UK. Auction house representative says 'the paintings are of historical interest rather than artistic merit'

Watercolors and sketches attributed to Adolf Hitler sold briskly Tuesday at an auction which was briefly interrupted by a pair of self-styled "comedy terrorists."


Aaron Barschak, who gained notoriety by dressing up as Osama bin Laden and crashing Prince William's 21st birthday party in 2003, and Peter Cunningham jumped up and started shouting after the first 13 items had been sold at Jefferys Auctioneers.


Cunnigham, wearing a painted Hitler mustache and slicked down hair, shouted "Third Reich" And "Mussolini" before being escorted out by security guards. Barschak then

started shouting and was also ejected.


Prices for the first 13 items were stronger than predicted, ranging from USD 6,100 to USD 18,000.

Hitler painting (Photo: AP)


Military buffs and curious neighbors gathered in this small Cornish town for an auction of scenes depicting cottages, churches and pastoral hillsides.


Attention from the sale forced Jefferys Auctioneers in the sleepy community to move the sale to a nearby hotel. Around 50 onlookers gathered to see the work of a struggling artist who painted during breaks from the front while stationed in Belgium during World War I.


Hitler like Saddam?

"This was not Hitler the military man or Hitler the dictator who had done these paintings and drawings," Said Mike Palmer, 51, who attended to see what the fuss was all



The 21 watercolors and two sketches, most of them landscapes, were found in a farmhouse in Belgium, not far from where Hitler was stationed in Flanders. The auction

house displayed the works along the wall of the hotel's restaurant, carefully encased in plastic to prevent damage.


The anonymous owners had the paper tested to determine its age, confirmed the signature and matched landmarks in the paintings to sites where Hitler was posted, said Chris Walton, a spokesman for Jefferys.

Terry Betts, 52, said the attention was good for the town, which depends on tourism.


"I don't have any trouble with the auction at all," Betts said. "It's part of history, not good history maybe. But we live with dictators like that now - don't we? - the Saddam Husseins of the world."


Somewhat controversial 

Are the paintings genuine? It's impossible to say. The experts who authenticated them in the 1980s are dead. Still, the works could sell for up to USD 8,000 each, Walton said.


"Some people would consider the sale somewhat controversial, but the pieces were executed so long ago - nearly 100 years ago - that they now just represent something of the past," Walton said. "The paintings are of historical interest rather than artistic merit."


Hitler is thought to have painted hundreds of pieces before becoming Nazi leader. In the past, his paintings have sold for USD 5,000 to USD 50,000.


Dealing with Hitler's work and other items related to the Nazi regime has always been a thorny issue. In many European countries, including Germany, it is illegal to buy, own or sell Nazi memorabilia. A German auction house in 2001 withdrew a Hitler painting following public protests. The Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., Has hundreds of Nazi-related pieces - including four Hitler paintings - but they are locked in vaults and not on display.


"It's in very bad taste," Said Rhonda Barad with the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish advocacy group. "Most auction houses have steered clear of such sales because it offends a lot of people still alive today."


Buyers of Hitler items are usually private collectors of military memorabilia or World War II enthusiasts, art dealers and auction houses say.


פרסום ראשון: 09.26.06, 21:48
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