Five ‘Hitler’ paintings to go under hammer in Nuremberg

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A photo taken on February 8, 2019 shows the watercolour entitled "Buschgruppe" (bush group) signed "A. Hitler", which is on display at the Weidler auction house in Nuremberg in the southern city of Nuremberg. (AFP)
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A photo taken on February 8, 2019 shows the watercolour entitled "Ortschaft an Vorgebirgssee", a scene of a village near a mountain lake, signed "A. Hitler", which is on display at the Weidler auction house in Nuremberg in the southern city of Nuremberg. (AFP)
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A picture taken on February 8, 2019 at the Weidler auction house in the southern German city of Nuremberg shows a wicker armchair, bearing a swastika, and a vase which are presumed to have belonged to late Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. (AFP)
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A picture taken on February 8, 2019 at the Weidler auction house in the southern German city of Nuremberg shows a wicker armchair bearing a swastika which is presumed to have belonged to the late Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. (AFP)
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A picture taken on February 8, 2019 at the Weidler auction house in the southern German city of Nuremberg shows a wicker armchair, bearing a swastika, a vase and watercolours which are presumed to have belonged to late Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2019

Five ‘Hitler’ paintings to go under hammer in Nuremberg

  • A haul of 26 pieces originally featured in the catalogue have been removed from sale after suspicions were raised that they might be fakes

NUREMBERG, Germany: Five paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler will be auctioned off Saturday in the German city of Nuremberg, sparking anger that the Nazi memorabilia market is alive and well.
Nuremberg’s mayor Ulrich Maly has condemned the upcoming sale as being “in bad taste,” speaking to Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Among the items to go under the hammer are a mountain lake view with a starting price of 45,000 euros ($51,000) and a wicker armchair with a swastika symbol presumed to have belonged to the late Nazi dictator.
The Weidler auction house is holding the “special sale” in Nuremberg, the city in which Nazi war criminals were tried in 1945.
The auction made headlines days before its start after several artworks were withdrawn Thursday on suspicion they were fakes and prosecutors stepped in.
Sales of alleged artworks by Hitler — who for a time tried to make a living as an artist in his native Austria — regularly spark outrage that collectors are willing to pay high prices for art linked to the country’s Nazi past.
“There’s a long tradition of this trade in devotional objects linked to Nazism,” Stephan Klingen of the Central Institute for Art History in Munich told AFP.
“Every time there’s a media buzz about it... and the prices they’re bringing in have been rising constantly. Personally, that’s something that quite annoys me.”

In Germany, public displays of Nazi symbols are illegal but exceptions can be made, in educational or historic contexts for instance.
To comply with the law, the auction house pixellated the swastikas on the wicker chair and a blue-and-white Meissen porcelain vase in catalogue photos, and has covered them up on-site.
But none of the paintings include any of the totalitarian party’s insignias.
According to Klingen, Hitler had the style of “a moderately ambitious amateur” but his creations did not stand out from “hundreds of thousands” of comparable works from the period — making their authenticity especially hard to verify.
A haul of 26 pieces originally featured in the catalogue have been removed from sale after suspicions were raised that they might be fakes.
The watercolors, drawings and paintings bearing “Hitler” signatures featured views of Vienna or Nuremberg, female nudes and still lifes, the auction house said. They were offered by 23 different owners.
Prosecutors on Wednesday collected 63 artworks from the Weidler premises bearing the signature “A.H.” or “A. Hitler,” including some not slated to go under the hammer Saturday.
The Nuremberg-Fuerth prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation against persons unknown “on suspicion of falsifying documents and attempted fraud,” chief prosecutor Antje Gabriels-Gorsolke told AFP.
“If they turn out to be fakes, we will then try to determine who knew what in the chain of ownership,” she said.
Weidler said in a statement that the paintings’ withdrawal from sale “does not automatically mean they are fakes.”


Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

Updated 19 August 2019

Alaska man discovers 50-year-old message in bottle from Russian Navy

  • Then Russian Navy Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko wrote the letter when he was a 36-year-old aboard the Sulak
ANCHORAGE, Alaska: A man discovered a 50-year-old letter in a bottle from the Russian Navy on the shores of western Alaska.
Tyler Ivanoff found the handwritten Russian letter early this month while gathering firewood near Shishmaref about 600 miles (966 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage, television station KTUU reported.
“I was just looking for firewood when I found the bottle,” Tyler Ivanoff said. “When I found the bottle, I had to use a screwdriver to get the message out.”
Ivanoff shared his discovery on Facebook where Russian speakers translated the message to be a greeting from a Cold War Russian sailor dated June 20, 1969. The message included an address and a request for a response from the person who finds it.
Reporters from the state-owned Russian media network, Russia-1, tracked down the original writer, Capt. Anatolii Prokofievich Botsanenko, KTUU reported.
He was skeptical he wrote the note until he saw his signature on the bottom.
“There — exactly!” he exclaimed.
The message was sent while the then 36-year-old was aboard the Sulak, Botsanenko said. Botsanenko shed tears when the Russian television reporter told him the Sulak was sold for scrap in the 1990s.
Botsanenko also showed the reporter some souvenirs from his time on the ship, including the autograph of the wife of a famous Russian spy and Japanese liquor bottles, the latter kept over his wife’s protests.
Ivanoff’s discovery of the bottle was first reported by Nome radio station KNOM.