May, 2009

Tita Thyssen’s Proposed Malaga Gallery Questioned

The fulfilment of the ambition of Heini Thyssen’s widow, Carmen Cervera, to see her own name in lights on a public museum – rumoured locations for which have so far included Madrid, Seville, Sant Feliu de Guixols and Malaga – continues to hang in the balance, as it has done, now, for some five years.

First political concerns about the plans for a Carmen Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Malaga were raised in May 2008, when the professor of law at Malaga University and spokesperson for the United Left Party, Pedro Moreno Brenes, urged the local government to stop developing the new museum (for which € 25 million had already been budgeted) until a fully committed contract had been signed.

Then, on 31 March 2009, much was made of Carmen Thyssen and Malaga’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, signing the papers to set up the foundation which is to manage the museum. Pictures were taken of ‘Tita’ laying the foundation stone.

While de la Torre had apparently been given three catalogues by the ‘Baroness’ from which 200 pictures would be chosen for the museum (on loan for 15 years), and it was claimed they were all “very attractive and interesting”, the opposition has so far failed in their attempts to gain access to an exact and definite list of the proposed works to be exhibited. Names of artists bandied about have included “Zurbaran, Zuloaga and Sorolla”.

On 19 April 2009, Moreno Brenes’s party presented a motion to the town council, critising the “notable legal insecurity” in the ongoing Thyssen negotiations, while adding that the budgeted costs for the Carmen Thyssen Bornemisza Museum of Malaga (to be opened at the end of 2010) had by now increased to € 38 million.

Today comes news that the main opposition party, the PSOE, which forms the national government of Spain, has joined the ranks of the critics of this project. Their spokesperson for the Malaga town government, Rafael Fuentes, has told Europa Press that Mayor de la Torre has “sacrificed the needs of ordinary citizens of Malaga in favour of pet projects of Barons and Earls” and that there is a marked “lack of transparency” in the Thyssen and other projects.

http://www.europapress.es/andalucia/noticia-psoe-critica-pp-ciudad-parada-no-haya-arrimado-hombro-lucha-contra-crisis-20090525152909.html

http://www.europapress.es/autonomias-00175/noticia-iu-insta-pp-conocer-obras-museo-thyssen-garantice-calidad-mismas-20090419112014.html

http://www.laopiniondemalaga.es/secciones/noticia.jsp?pRef=2008052100_2_181054__Malaga-pide-gastar-dinero-Thyssen-hasta-firmar-contrato

Tita Thyssen-Bornemisza cementing her future in Malaga (courtesy of Hola Magazine, 31 March 2009)

Tita Thyssen-Bornemisza cementing her future in Malaga (courtesy of Hola Magazine, 31 March 2009)

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Posted in The Thyssen Art Macabre, Thyssen Art 1 Comment »

Vienna University’s Impartiality In Question

During December 2008, I was invited by the Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre at the University of Vienna to take part in a discussion concerning her play ‘Rechnitz (Der Würgeengel)’ to take place in May 2009. Some four weeks prior to the event, I discovered one of the sponsors of the series of lectures and discussions under the title ‘Endless Innocence’ was to be Francesca Habsburg, nee Thyssen, in the form of her art foundation Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (T-B A21). My introductory statement which I gave on the evening of 5 May in Vienna was largely in response to this situation.  It read as follows:

‘I would like to say how gratified I am to have played such a major part in persuading Francesca Thyssen to accept, as part of her financial inheritance, some responsibility for her family’s behaviour. I believe this to be manifest in her sponsoring of this event.

However, I would have been even more gratified if she had made an apologetic admission, as opposed to a financial contribution, for being that the Thyssens were sponsors of Rechnitz Castle and the Countess (and I do have documentary evidence of that fact with me tonight), I consider there to be something obscenely ironic about the fact that we are all sitting here, 64 years later, discussing the Rechnitz Massacre, or a play by Elfriede Jelinek, which includes the massacre, while yet again being sponsored by The Thyssens in the form of Francesca’s art foundation.

I am also forced to question how, as long as any doubt remains concerning the extent of the Thyssens’ involvement in the Rechnitz Massacre, Vienna University can accept her money while claiming impartiality.

Unfortunately, this conflict of interest is not a unique situation in the academic world, particularly in the case of Wolfgang Benz, head of Anti-Semitism Research at the Technical University of Berlin, and Richard Evans, Chairman of the Faculty of History at Cambridge University, who have both attempted to discredit my writing in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and my book, ‘The Thyssen Art Macabre’, published in Germany under the title ‘Die Thyssen-Dynastie’, while accepting funding from the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.

I am sad to say that I consider this type of arrangement brings into question the credibility of academic historians.

I now have another question. If Countess Margit Batthyany, nee Thyssen, sponsored the murder of 200 Hungarian Jews as after-dinner entertainment and possibly even played an active role in their murder, and then Elfriede Jelinek writes a play involving the atrocity, which can also be characterised as entertainment, albeit intellectual entertainment, but which I’m sure everyone here considers a work of art, where does that leave the killing of the Jews?

As I hope and believe is obvious from my article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and my book ‘Die Thyssen-Dynastie’, I consider it a crime against humanity. And no amount of art sponsorship, intellectual smoke screens or academic denial is ever going to alter that.’

I was subsequently informed that Francesca had promised the university to make a public statement, but had failed to do so, despite numerous reminders, prior to her departure to her house in Jamaica.
http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20090515/social/social3.html

(For the German version of my statement, please go to ‘Events’).

Vienna University, Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre

Vienna University, Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre

The Reich and the Habsburgs working together in public & private partnership

The Reich and the Habsburgs working together in public & private partnership

Professor Janke of the Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre still experiencing difficulties appreciating what constitutes freedom of speech

Professor Janke of the Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre still experiencing difficulties appreciating what constitutes freedom of speech

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Posted in The Thyssen Art Macabre, Thyssen Corporate, Thyssen Family No Comments »