The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

Categories: Culture

Sofia Bagdasarova, known under the pseudonym Shakko, writes very non-trivial and funny on the topic of art criticism. Author of the book "Disgusting art. Humor and horror of masterpieces of painting" tells about the bizarre fate of a painting by Raphael, stolen by the Germans during the war, which she personally considers the most expensive of the stolen canvases.

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

Ratings of stolen art are usually headed by all sorts of whistled Picassos, whose prices at world auctions were more than a hundred million dollars. Unlike this picture — which no one valued with money. But, in my personal opinion, it is she who is the most valuable of the lost. Because Picasso painted thousands of paintings, and Raphael — only dozens. Admire this masterpiece with me.

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

How did it happen that this masterpiece was stolen? Everything is quite predictable: The Second World War.

The painting, like Leonardo da Vinci's The Lady with the Ermine, was bought in Italy in the early 1800s by Prince Czartoryski, who brought them home to Poland. There it was kept for many years, since the 1880s in the Museum of Princes in Krakow.

There are versions according to which the "Portrait of a young man" (1513-1514) is a self-portrait of the artist. This opinion is based on the similarity with the only reliable (according to Vasari) image of Raphael — in the crowd on the fresco "Athenian School".

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

In 1939, three of the most valuable paintings from the Czartoryski collection were packed in a chest with the letters LRR (Leonardo, Rembrandt, Raphael) and hidden. However, the collection was found by the Germans and sent to the Reich. For a short time the portrait was in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin, but eventually it was to become part of the exposition of the Hitler Museum in Linz. As a result of unknown circumstances — perhaps as a gift from Hitler — the painting fell into the hands of Hans Frank, the Governor-General of Poland. Until the end of the war, it probably hung in Frank's residence in Wawel. It was there, at least, that she was last seen.

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

A copy of the painting stored in the Academy of Carrara (Bergamo). It is believed that the colors in these lists are "truer" than on the only color reproduction-a postcard of the thirties

Escaping from Krakow before the Soviet offensive, Frank ordered to take "his property" to Germany — first to Silesia, and then to his own villa in Neuhaus am Schliersee. His authorized representative for art, Wilhelm Palezier, allegedly confused the portrait with another work, which eventually led to its disappearance.

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

A copy in Canterbury City Council Museums and Galleries (UK), it is also in the first photo in the post

The Americans arrested Frank on May 3, 1945, pending trial for war crimes (he was executed in 1946 by the Nuremberg verdict). The Polish representative in the Allied Commission for the Search of Works of Art noted some paintings stolen by Frank and demanded their return on behalf of the Czartoryski Museum. However, the portrait of the young man and 843 other items were missing from the warehouse. (But the "Lady with the Ermine" was found and returned.)

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

A shot from the 22nd episode of The Simpsons season 8 "Angry Abe Simpson and his unfinished grandson in The Curse of the Flying Piranhas"

After the war, the painting was not found, and it is unknown what happened to it. Sometimes there are some rumors, but they all turn out to be groundless.

In 2016, the Czartoryski collection was sold to Poland — while retaining the right to claim this painting if it ever resurfaces (as well as 843 other missing works from the same collection). Sometimes some of these items come up (carpet, crucifix).

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

An empty photo frame hangs next to Leonardo's painting in the museum

How much would the "Portrait" cost if it appeared now? Not at all, this is state property.

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

A shot from Clooney's film The Monuments Men, where it is assumed that the painting was destroyed

But if the Chartoryskys had reserved the right to it for themselves and put it up for auction as their legitimate property, then the portrait could really surpass Leonardo's "Savior of the World" for half a billion (because his biography is more reliable and generally the picture itself is more beautiful). And he would have flown to some Arabs…

The most expensive of the stolen masterpieces of painting, the fate of which remains unknown

On the topic of how much of everything precious the Fritz looted and how amazing it is that almost everything was returned, I recommend a documentary from National Geographics. In Russian under the title "Defenders of Cultural Heritage" (in English - The Monuments Men). A standard Western TV documentary about art. Much more exciting and logical than the film of the same name directed by Clooney.

Keywords: World War II | Painting | Paintings | Theft

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