Five paintings purportedly made by genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler failed to find any buyers at a weekend auction in Nuremberg, Germany, amid concerns about the artworks’ authenticity and accusations that the sale itself was in “bad taste.”
The high starting prices of the paintings, all of which depicted landscapes, are also believed to have kept potential buyers at bay. The most costly artwork, of a mountain lake scene, had a starting price of $51,000, Deutsche Welle reported.
But Hitler’s artworks have fetched big bucks in the past. In 2015, the Weidler auction house in Nuremberg — the same one that auctioned the five paintings on Saturday — sold 14 watercolors and drawings by the Führer for almost half a million dollars.
Weidler’s recent auction, which took place Saturday, was dogged by forgery accusations. Last week, German police seized dozens of artworks signed by “A. Hitler” from the auction house on suspicion that they were fakes, the BBC reported.
The auction had also been marred by public criticism. Ulrich Maly, the mayor of Nuremberg — where Nazi war criminals were tried in 1945 — had earlier lambasted the sale as being “in bad taste.”
Hitler, who orchestrated the murder of millions of Jews and others during World War II, had aspired to be an artist as a young man. He was rejected twice, however, by Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts and has generally been deemed a mediocre painter by experts.
Asked recently to appraise the alleged Hitler paintings auctioned over the weekend, famed art critic Jerry Saltz described the artworks as “physically and spatially dead.”
″[Hitler] was an adequate draftsman, utterly unimaginative, and made the equivalent [of] greeting cards,” Saltz told NPR’s Scott Simon.
According to Deutsche Welle, Saturday’s Hitler auction wasn’t a total flop. A tablecloth and Meissen vase believed to have been owned by the Nazi dictator were sold for $700 and $6,200, respectively. A wicker chair embellished with a swastika design did not attract a buyer, however.