A collection of 16 watercolours attributed to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler sold for 104,800 pounds ($164,800) at an auction in Britain Thursday, and were snapped up by buyers from emerging economies.
Richard Westwood-Brookes of Mullock’s Auctioneers in Shropshire, northwest of London, said it was an ‘interesting trend’ that the works had been bought exclusively by overseas buyers from China, India and Russia.
‘This shows that it has nothing to do with an obsession with the Nazis, or neo-Nazis buying it,’ Westwood-Brookes told DPA.
‘There is a great interest in World War II in these countries and a lot of people with a lot of money to invest,’ he said. ‘They look at these items as an investment.’
The watercolours, painted by Hitler around 1908 when he was ‘a struggling artist’ in Austria had been expected to fetch 150,000 pounds.
The highest single price paid for a painting was 10,000 pounds for Ortschaft am Main (Village on the Main), a hillside scene with a rustic building, signed by Hitler.
A watercolour of a landscape with a large basilica, and factory chimneys in the distance, sold for 8,200 pounds, the average price paid by bidders for each of the items.
Hitler’s fish knife fetched 900 pounds, but a tea spoon used by his mistress, Eva Braun, remained unsold.
A rare copy of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, signed and inscribed by the Nazi leader, was the prize lot of the sale, fetching 18,000 pounds, according to Westwood-Brookes.
The paintings, signed by Hitler, were discovered in a country estate in northern Austria recently acquired by a wealthy lawyer, who had found the paintings ‘sitting in a cupboard’.
Westwood-Brookes said his company had taken on the auction because the sale of Nazi memorabilia was prohibited by law in a number of European countries and ‘Ebay in those countries won’t accept’ them.
Most of the works were painted in 1908, when Hitler was a struggling young artist after having been rejected twice by an art academy in Vienna.
‘He was a second-rate painter,’ Westwood-Brookes said. ‘He simply wasn’t good enough … particularly when drawing people, the perspective was all wrong’.
However, it was remarkable that they were ‘all peaceful subjects, without exception, no military, no violent subjects’.