Seven paintings once owned by Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler have been discovered by Czech scholar in a Czech monastery
These seven works form part of an art collection previously believed to be lost. Jiri Kuchar, who has written two books on Hitler’s art collection and discovered the collection in the course of his research, said that these works are ‘part of Hitler’s collection of about 45 paintings, about 30 statues, a writing table and some gifts, which was declared former Czechoslovakia’s war booty’.
During World War II, the collection was stored at the southern Czech monastery of Vyssi Brod, together with two larger collections previously owned by German-born Jewish banker Fritz Mannheimer (bought by Hitler in 1941) and the Rothschild family (confiscated by the Nazis in 1938). These two larger collections were appropriated by the Americans after the war and taken to Munich. But they left behind the rest.
‘The monks who got the monastery back after the war said they didn’t want the paintings,’ said Kuchar. And they where sent away, passing through several castles and monasteries before ending up at Doksany, where Kuchar discovered them last July.
Kuchar began his search for the works five years ago, using pictures of the collection that were taken while it was still at Vyssi Brod: ‘I sent DVDs with the pictures to institutions I thought might have the works’ he said.
As well as the works at the monastery, he managed to track down several statues and paintings, including a group of statues at the southern chateau of Hluboka, which the owners has since removed to prevent neo-Nazi tourism.
And this appeal is the unfortunate reality about such Nazi memorabilia. The newly discovered collection, for instance, is now probably worth about 50 million koruna (two million euros, $2.7 million). ‘I’m afraid there’s a channel leading to the west. I’ve found two of the statues on offer at auction houses, one in Frankfurt, the other in London,’ he said, adding one was sold for £150,000 pounds (177,000 euros, $237,000) two years ago. Other works have been secreted away, presumably kept privately as neo-Nazi relics: ‘To put it delicately, let’s say they disappeared.’
Follow ArtLyst on Twitter for breaking art news and latest exhibition reviews