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Warsaw. The painting “Reality” sold at auction for PLN 17 million

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The painting “Reality” was conditionally sold at an auction in DESA for PLN 17 million. However, the transaction and release of the work will take place when the legal status of the painting is determined. This is currently being investigated by the prosecutor’s office.

The prosecutor’s office is examining the legal status and provenance of the work. The point is to determine whether the export of the work from Poland in the 1950s by its then owners was lawful, or whether they had permission to export the painting.

They took the painting as a resettlement property to West Germany

As DESA Unicum reported to PAP, “the painting “Reality” by Jacek Malczewski became the property of a Polish-German family before 1939. In the 1950s (between 1954 and 1956) she moved from Poland to West Germany as a result of the family reunification campaign. picture with you as a resettlement property.”

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According to documents held by DESA Unicum, in 1957 the painting was in West Germany. In 2021, the work was put up for auction on Austrian eBay by the heir of the family. He inherited “Reality” from his grandmother. When DESA Unicum employees saw Malczewski’s painting at an online auction, they contacted its owner. Finally, after the competent German office granted permission for permanent export to Poland, the painting was auctioned at DESA Unicum.

Ministry intervention

According to the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, in December 2021 Jacek Malczewski’s lost painting “Reality” appeared on a popular foreign auction website. Anna Pawłowska-Pojawa, director of the Information Center of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, told PAP that “The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has taken steps to determine the fate of the painting and its current legal status.” According to DESA, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage reported to the prosecutor’s office the suspicion of committing the crime of illegally exporting the painting from Poland in the 1950s.

SEE: “Reality” will not go to the National Museum. The prosecution changes its mind about a famous painting.

Pawłowska-Pojawa informed that, given the existence of serious premises justifying the suspicion that the painting was the subject of a crime, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage submitted a relevant notification to the law enforcement authorities on March 25, 2022, i.e. a few months before the painting was put up for sale by the DESA Unicum Auction House. She also noted that on February 7, 2022, the DESA Unicum Auction House was warned by the ministry that restitution measures should be taken against the painting.

The auction was in jeopardy

Today’s (December 8) auction of the DESA Unicum Auction House was in danger for a while, because the Warsaw Śródmieście District Prosecutor’s Office issued a decision to secure the work in the National Museum. As a result, “on November 26, the policemen, assisted by the prosecutor and an employee of the National Museum, appeared at the auction house.” Pawłowska-Pojawa, on behalf of the Ministry of Culture, explained at that time that “the retention of the painting in deposit by the prosecutor’s office in recent days is an action aimed at securing it as evidence for the purposes of criminal proceedings.” However, the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw revoked this decision of the District Prosecutor’s Office, the painting was returned to DESY and went to auction.

READ: “Reality” will go to auction after all. But the sale of a painting worth millions will be conditional

On December 5, the spokeswoman for the District Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw, Aleksandra Skrzyniarz, announced that on Monday, the prosecutor’s office “after analyzing the collected evidence, as well as receiving a declaration from the commission agent and the committee (auction house and buyer of the painting), decided to continue entrusting Jacek Malczewski’s painting “Reality “auction house”. She added that at the current stage of the proceedings there are no reasons to immediately take the painting from the current custodian and entrust it to other entities. Thus, the previously issued decision of the district prosecutor’s office was repealed.

Thursday’s auction was conditional, which means that the purchase transaction will take place only after the legal status of the work has been clarified.

Main photo source: TVN24

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