Alt Wien 1908. (Washington, 2005) In October 1908 this watercolor was part of the portfolio submitted by Adolf Hitler in a second vain attempt to be admitted to Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. After the Second World War the US army discovered four watercolors by Hitler in a German castle. They belonged to the Führer’s personal photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann. Hitler had given them to him for his 50th birthday. The army found about 2.5 million negatives in this same castle, some of which would serve as evidence in the Nuremberg trials. The watercolors disappeared into the vaults of the Pentagon near Washington, labelled simply as ‘The watercolors’. In 1982, while conducting research for his book ‘Adolf Hitler: The Unknown Artist’, Billy F. Price came across the watercolors and acquired the rights to them from Hoffmann’s heirs. A long drawn-out legal battle about ownership of the watercolors was began in 1985. Billy F. Price sued for 99 million dollars in damages for being denied the right to exploit the works. The US government’s position was, however, as clear as day: ‘The United States is entitled to retain Hitler memorabilia...because we won the war.’ The US government eventually won this legal wrangle in 2002 before the Supreme Court and decreed that the watercolors would never again be allowed to leave the vaults of the Army Center of Military History.
65 x 57 cm
GERT JAN KOCKEN
THE PAST IN THE PRESENT

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