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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014
Adolf Hitler and his Nazi art plunder
Amisha Chowbey, Hindustan Times
March 29, 2014
First Published: 12:29 IST(29/3/2014)
Last Updated: 21:30 IST(29/3/2014)

Adolf Hitler was (believe it or not) apparently a good artist - though he was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. Not one to take the rejection too kindly, he began stealing famous artworks (to be displayed at the Führermuseum in Linz, Austria - Hitler's dream project that never took shape).

About 70 years ago, the Monuments Men, a group of people dedicated to preserving European culture, found 39 original albums cataloguing art stolen by the Nazis. We take you through some of them:

LOST: Portrait of a Young Man (Raphael)
Stolen from Poland after the German invasion in 1939, this 16th century oil painting by Raphael is believed to be his self-portrait. It was first moved to Germany but brought back to adorn the walls of the Wawel Castle and for the personal use of Hitler's friend and Nazi official Hans Frank. Last seen in 1945, the hunt is still on for the work, the price of which is estimated to cross $100 million!

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Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael (above left) | Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Gustav Klimt (above right)

FOUND: Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (Gustav Klimt)
Housed in the Neue Galerie in New York, this painting is nothing less than a sizzling golden beauty created by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. After winning a long-running ownership battle of confiscated art during the Nazi plunder with the German government, the descendants of Bloch-Bauer sold the painting to Ronald Lauder (the billionaire who owns Estée Lauder) for $135 million in 2006. This made it the most expensive painting of the time.

DESTROYED: The Painter on the Road to Tarascon (Vincent van Gogh)
This work by Vincent van Gogh was on its way to being housed in the Kaiser-Friedrich Museum in the city of Madgeburg, Germany. Destroyed due to the Allied bombings, this self-portrait of a lonely van Gogh and his looming shadow plodding on his way to work is now lost forever. Only replicas remain.

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The Painter on the Road to Tarascon by Vincent van Gogh  (above left) | Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan van Eyck

MOST WANTED: Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (The Ghent Altarpiece) - Jan van Eyck
The Ghent Altarpiece by the famed Dutch artists, the van Eyck brothers, is inarguably the most sought after artwork of the Nazi plunder and recovered by the Monuments Men in the biggest site of art treasure - the Altaussee salt mine in Austria. Being a part of 13 art crimes in the 600 years since it was completed, the altarpiece is the most wanted work in the history of art. Recovered and restored, it now makes its way back to the Saint Bravo Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium.

(Photos: Thinkstock, Shutterstock)

From HT Brunch, March 30

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