Hitler’s Cutlery, Liz Taylor Art, Mouton-Rothschild at Auction
The events start today at an auction house near a waste- recycling center in the London suburbs, the venue for the sale of an oil painting by a German Expressionist estimated to fetch between 800,000 pounds ($1.26 million) and 1.2 million pounds.
A moonlit scene of cloth-capped figures in a mining village was consigned by its owner to his local saleroom, Chiswick Auctions. Subsequent research by the Ludwig Meidner Archive in Frankfurt and pigment analysis by the London-based specialists Art Access & Research indicated the painting, which contains a defaced self-portrait and a pencil signature on the reverse, was an original work by Ludwig Meidner (1884-1966) from about 1912.
“The research on this painting has been an investment,” said Jan Leman, picture consultant at Chiswick Auctions, which paid between 5,000 pounds and 7,000 pounds for the pigment analysis. “It’s been recognized as a Meidner by international experts. Somehow it slipped through the fingers of the other auction houses. These things happen,” Leman said.
The work was bought by its dealer-cum-collector for about 2,400 pounds at a west London auction of unclaimed liquidated property six years ago, Leman said.
The Meidner Archive has suggested the painting was one of the works the Jewish artist brought to England when he escaped Nazi Germany in 1939.
A more violently Expressionistic “Apocalyptic Landscape” (1913) by Meidner sold for a record 1.8 million pounds at Sotheby’s in February 2006.
The Chiswick sale also includes 47 figure drawings by the 20th-century U.K. artist Augustus John entered by the Hollywood actress Liz Taylor. Estimates range from 300 pounds to 1,200 pounds for each piece.
The London-born star’s father, Francis Taylor, was an art dealer who established a gallery in the Beverly Hills Hotel, where he sold works by John and other British artists.
“Taylor has an affinity with Chiswick,” Leman said. “She and Richard Burton used to visit the area because it had the first pub they’d come to after arriving at Heathrow.”
Cutlery that was used by Meidner’s persecutor, Hitler, and his mistress Eva Braun is being offered for sale two days later at an auction in the English Midlands.
The silver knives, forks and spoons were taken from the Berghof, the Fuehrer’s mountain retreat in Bavaria, at the end of World War II, said the Shropshire-based auction house Mullock’s.
The items are accompanied by a typed statement in German from Berghof staff members Willi and Gretl Mitlstrasser stating that they rescued 100 pieces of silverware before the house was captured by Allied troops.
“Their motivation was to protect the items from looters,” the auction house’s historical documents specialist, Richard Westwood-Brookes, said in an interview.
The Mitlstrasser family subsequently sold Berghof cutlery. The items included in Mullock’s Sept. 30 auction in Ludlow have been entered by collectors based in the U.K. and Italy, said Westwood-Brookes.
A cutlery set bearing Braun’s monogram and a fish knife engraved “Adolf Hitler” are both estimated to fetch at least 1,000 pounds.
Authenticating watercolors by Adolf Hitler tends to be more problematic, Westwood-Brookes said.
“We always err on the side of caution,” he said. “His artworks were widely faked both during and after the war.”
The auction includes 15 watercolors attributed to Hitler, including a study of a house, signed and dated 1910, that carries an estimate of 8,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds.
Hong Kong Wine
Sotheby’s will be holding wine auctions in Hong Kong on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 that it estimates will make as much as HK$75.7 million ($9.7 million). The sales will include more than 400 bottles of Chateau Petrus from an unidentified U.S. collector.
Another 6,500 bottles from the cellar of the Texas real- estate investor Marcus D. Hiles include cases of Mouton- Rothschild’s 1982 and 1990 vintages, both of which carry high estimates of HK$120,000.
Asian buyers continue to dominate international wine auctions, with seven out of the 10 most expensive lots at Sotheby’s 40th Anniversary sale in London falling to bidders from that region.
The event on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 raised 2.4 million pounds with fees against a high estimate of 2.1 million pounds, based on hammer prices. Ninety-eight percent of the 1,308 lots found buyers, Sotheby’s said in an e-mailed statement.
The top seller was a 60-bottle lot containing all but one of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild’s vintages from 1945 to 2003. This was bought by an Asian buyer for 50,600 pounds, beating estimates of 15,000 pounds to 20,000 pounds.
(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
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