The state bank of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia has decided against selling two Sigmar Polke works of art following a countrywide controversy over the deaccessioning of two Andy Warhol works of art – reported by Monopol.
The German casino conglomerate Westspiel, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the bank, announced the decision to sell the pair of works, estimated at €100 million or £78 million, in September. The works will be up at auction today at Christie’s New York and have generated considerable controversy in Germany, the story has even graced the front pages of German newspapers. The bank has now subsequently dropped plans to sell the pair of Polke works, in a move, which some have seen as an effort by the state to avoid yet further criticism from the public.
A spokesperson for NRW Bank admitted that the bank did initially have plans to auction the two works after it was unable to find a museum prepared to take the pictures for long term loan. Yet the Düsseldorf Kunstsammlung NRW and the LWL-Museum Münster both expressed an interest in accepting the artworks, allowing the plans to sell the works to be halted. Polke’s work ‘Hüter der Schwelle’ (2003) has been loaned to LWL Museum Münster. The other piece by the artist, ‘Primavera’ (2003) has been loaned to the Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf.
The indebted casino chain Westspiel decided to sell the Warhol works without notifying state museums or even consulting the region’s culture minister before gooing ahead with its plans. The profit from the sale has been put towards to to pay off the casino’s sizeable financial obligations. There was even a petition, which tried to stop the sale of the works called it a “controversial political issue with considerable ripple effect,” that attempted to prevent the auction taking place.