March 26, 2009 / 2:24 PM / 10 years ago

Hitler's paintings to go on sale in Britain

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A British auction house said on Thursday it intends to sell 13 paintings attributed to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler next month.

The works, including a self portrait painted when Hitler was a struggling artist in Vienna, will go under the hammer on April 23, Mullock’s Specialist Auctioneers and Valuers said.

Two years ago, 21 paintings attributed to Hitler were sold for 118,000 pounds ($172,200), or more than twice the pre-sale estimate, by an auction house in England. The sale raised doubts among some art experts about the authenticity of the paintings.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of Hitler art, and the subjects tend to be the same,” said Richard Westwood-Brookes, a historical documents expert who will be holding the sale for Mullock’s.

He said Hitler liked to paint pictures of flowers, especially roses, and romantic landscapes with cottages.

In the self portrait, a watercolor, the future leader of the Third Reich is sitting pensively on a stone bridge, wearing a brown suit. His face lacks a nose and mouth, as well the trademark square mustache.

“They’re not exactly the greatest pictures in the world,” Westwood-Brookes said, adding they could fetch between 400 and 1,000 pounds ($580 to $1,460).

He said purchasers would likely be “people who are genuinely interested in Hitler as a figure from history.” An unnamed Russian businessman was top bidder at the previous auction.

Hitler applied to art school in Vienna but was rejected. He then joined the army and fought in World War One.

Westwood-Brookes said an Austrian expert had issued certificates of authenticity for the pictures, which once belonged to a British soldier who was stationed in Essen, Germany, in 1945.

The authenticity of items associated with Hitler has long been a bone of contention. In 1983, German magazine Stern published what it said were extracts from Hitler’s diaries. They were later exposed as forgeries.

Reporting by Catherine Bosley

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