Updated: Mar 29
By Alex Stuart
Three watercolour landscapes signed ‘A. Hitler’, dating back to 1910, were on sale at Berlin Auktionshaus Kloss on 24th January. The next day, the police acted on a court order to seize the paintings suspected to be forgeries, despite the auction house having received certificates of authenticity from the unnamed private seller.
You may be surprised that Hitler’s works are even allowed to be sold in the German art market, when the public display of Nazi symbols, including Hitler’s face, is illegal and punishable by three years in prison. Less surprising; when 29 of Hitler’s works were auctioned in Nuremburg in 2016, the majority were left unsold. Whilst applying to books and video games (until very recently), the ban broadly exempts art and by association, the art market. Films such as Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds have also been exempted. This has led to debate around inconsistency in Germany’s rules on Nazi symbolism, as they vary based on medium. Read an interview on Zeit with media scientist Lisa Gotto about the legalisation of Nazi symbols in video games.