Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Yo Pagué a Hitler (I Paid Hitler) – A Thyssen Vanity Project Then and Now

First published in 1941, the book ‘I Paid Hitler’, whose authorship Fritz Thyssen both claimed and denied at different times, has recently been republished in Spain by Editorial Renacimiento of Seville, with a foreword by Juan Bonilla, under the title ‘Yo Pagué a Hitler’.

But why?

Seventy-six years ago, the work was brokered, edited and largely written by a highly intelligent Jewish, formerly Hungarian literary hustler by the name of Emery Reves (Imre Révész), who made a great deal of money from such things; much of it from subsequently representing Winston Churchill’s literary and journalistic endeavours.

With the encouragement of Reves, the considerably less intelligent Fritz Thyssen attempted to convince his readers that he deserved admiration for his courage in opposing allied First World War reparation demands on Germany. He also craved a sympathetic understanding for his financial support of Hitler as a means of preventing the spread of communism, as well as an acceptance of the notion that he had rejected the Third Reich when he realised the truth of its ambitions in late 1939.

This initial ploy, however, remained largely unsuccessful, as the book was dismissed by many as delusional, self-protective propaganda.

Meanwhile, Fritz, eager to cultivate what he saw as his new-found status of international, political celebrity, had given up his plans of escaping to Argentina (the anonymity of which he feared) and remained in Europe. But, courtesy of the Gestapo, by late 1940 he found himself back in Nazi Germany – together with his wife – where they would be held quite comfortably, first in a private sanatorium and, from 1943 onwards, in the VIP sections (!) of various concentration camps.

Today, at a time when the Fritz Thyssen Foundation of Cologne (founded in 1959 by Fritz Thyssen’s widow Amelie Thyssen as a memorial and tax efficient means of cultivating academic favour by providing financial support for research projects), is busy funding an academic rewriting of the Thyssen corporate and familial history, the reappearance of the book ‘I Paid Hitler’ could prove somewhat of an embarrassment. Indeed, they have already acknowledged the fact that a number of the statements in the work are, in fact, untrue!

So why now? And why in Spain?

When we pointed out in ‘The Thyssen Art Macabre’ that Fritz Thyssen and his wife had fled Germany, not, as claimed, in protest against Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Poland, but largely because of a fear of punishment for their grave contraventions of German tax regulations and foreign exchange controls (to the tune of 48 million Reichsmark, i.e. some 350 million Euros at today’s rate), their eldest grandson, Count Alejandro Zichy-Thyssen, posted a review of ‘The Thyssen Art Macabre’ on Amazon which read thus:

’……I find it incredible that someone can loose his time to try so smear one of the important Dutch/German families. It is a much better reading the book “I Paid Hitler” by Fritz Thyssen who was published in 1941 during the war when Hitler had the most powerful army behind him. Then to stand up and try to warn the United States of whom Hitler really was demanded an act of courage. Courage from a hero (Iron Cross) of the First World War. This man was captured by Hitler in 1940 and was put in a concentration camp. To try to smear his family name sixty years later inventing stories about the family in order to sell a book, I leave to you reader to judge the character of such a writer?’

It could thus seem reasonable to assume that, given the fact the Zichy-Thyssens have achieved very little in their lives apart from fortuitous parental choice, resulting in their exceptional wealth, they might have been responsible for funding this latest publishing venture.

So why Spain?

Well, having been raised in Argentina, the Zichy-Thyssens’ grasp of the Spanish language is somewhat better than their obviously tenuous grasp of English.

It should also, perhaps, not be forgotten that the Third Reich was partially responsible for General Franco’s success in the Spanish Civil War and the resulting subjugation of the population to fascist rule, which lasted well into the 1970s. There must still be many Spanish who remain sympathetic to the likes of Fritz Thyssen and of his family’s faded ‘fascist glory’.

And why now?

Well, perhaps because, despite all the academic polishing, the Thyssen reputation continues to rust. Perhaps because our seminal book has obliged the Fritz Thyssen Foundation-funded academics to admit more than the Zichy-Thyssen family is prepared to accept, without protest. And perhaps because ‘I Paid Hitler’ can once again resume its vainglorious objectives as a tool of Thyssen propaganda.

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The Thyssens’ Poisoned Chalice

It was recently announced that the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid has suffered a loss of some 4.5 million Euros during 2014. Considering the fragile state of Spain’s economy and the fact that, contractually, they are not permitted to capitalise on the value of the collection by selling any of the pictures, it was bad news.

But worse was to come. For it was also revealed that the total legal costs of defending a claim by surviving members of a German Jewish family against the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum for the return of a picture painted by Camille Pissarro that they claim to have sold under duress to the Nazis in 1939, and which was subsequently procured by the Thyssen family before being sold on to the Spanish nation, has now reached 1.3 million Euros.

Heini Thyssen and his father had always used their art collection as a smoke screen behind which they could hide the fact that much of their fortune was the result of profits earned fuelling and arming the Third Reich and supplying it with banking facilities.

One of the unfortunate effects of such a restitution claim is that it reminds people of the Thyssens’ Nazi past and the fact that it is the Spanish people who are being obliged to fund the protection of the Spanish ‘investment’ as well as the defence of the Thyssens’ name, who in turn have not exactly been forthcoming in contributing to the coffers of the Spanish tax authorities.

And while the American lawyers are representing the Cassirers on a contingency basis, which avoids the family having to make any contribution to costs, the plaintiffs remain all too aware that every time they mount another appeal (which they are doing at this very minute), the Spanish legal fees, for which there is no ultimate profit which they can be offset against, continue to mount. As do the Museum’s losses. Thus there must come a time when the Spanish will be obliged to ‘take a view’ and hand the picture back.

To us it has always been clear that this collection would one day reveal itself as a poisoned chalice for the host country. The Cassirer claim, if successful, could open the gates to further claims against the museum, as there is no shortage of paintings in its holdings with questionable provenances, a fact that the Spanish failed to identify by independent verification before they committed to buy. The potential for a major eclat is intrinsic to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. The only question is: how long will it take to unravel?

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On 4th April 2016 Mark Kochanski commented:

In a recent court brief the Foundation contends that the plaintiffs (the Cassirers) ”continue their campaign to tarnish the Foundation’s image with “red flags” to suggest actual knowledge of the 1939 taking or, at the very least, a level of negligence that warrants punishment.” The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum has tarnished its own image by knowingly hoarding Nazi looted art in violation of the Washington Conference Principles and the Terezin Declaration. This is shameful and the “Baroness” needs to be held to account.

Camille Pissarro: "Rue St Honore, apres-midi, effet de pluie" (1897).

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Incest?

El Mundo has claimed Tita (Cervera Thyssen) privately admitted she used her son Borja’s sperm to impregnate the Los Angeles based surrogate mother of her twin girls. Such things are illegal in Spain but apparently not in California, where, particularly in the City of Angels, they have yet to sanction topless bathing but seem OK with technical incest. Assuming both Tita and El Mundo are telling the truth, what do you think? Either morally, religiously or as the source of a plot for a new Almodovar movie, I would really appreciate your comments, particularly from Spain and LA.

(For the English translation of the El Mundo article, click here: 100515ElMundoTwinPeaks).

Tita Thyssen (photo: El Pais, Spain)

Silvia Hl from Spain writes: ‘La sola imagen del tinglado es digna de la más sórdida historia del pueblo profundo. Y se hacen llamar aristocracia. Sea verdad o mentira, es asqueroso. Endogámicos pervertidos! The sole image of the makings makes one think of sordid, weird peoples from other ages. It is a real shame that Spain has to deal with guys like these. As for LA and USA, hypocrites!’

Michael Hecht in London says: ‘Spooky’.

Marta Cibelina blogs: ‘In Spain, it is forbidden to reveal the identity of a sperm donor and not permitted for a woman over 60 to adopt a child. In Spain, it is also illegal to use surrogate mothers to conceive. The story of Tita’s adoption therefore provokes a sick feeling in people. The best one/she could do is to keep quiet about it all. But today, I heard her on a programme saying ‘of course I know who the biological father of my twins is’. Yet, the logical thing would be for her not to know and if she does, it’s something that only concerns her daughters and nobody else. In Spain, we have different values and laws concerning adoption and in vitro fertilisation. For better or worse, these girls will be raised in our country and in our culture’.

Jonathan VS in Spain twitters: ‘The Jet-Set is like that…..What the hell….’.

petitemaoiste twitters: #novelendogamy #inbredaristocrats #aristocratasdegenerados

jarais in Boston twitters: Squicky rumors from Spanish jet set that baronesa thyssen’s rent-a-womb twins fathered by her grown son #toomuchmoney #thosepoorkids #rentawombnightmare

Carlos, the Spanish barman at the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club says: ‘This reminds me of the Woody Allen syndrome’. (For those who don’t remember: Woody left his wife to pursue a relationship with their adopted daughter).

JotaInKoelle says: ‘Yo mientras no lo use para cocinar no me sorprendo de nada’.

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Will Spain Give The Thyssens A Second Gold Hoard?

Interview with Sara Olivo for Epoca Magazine (Gaceta de Negocios)           12 March 2010.

EM: Do you think that Carmen Cervera and the Spanish State will come to an agreement for the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection to remain in Spain?

DL: I hope not. The Spanish state does not need her pictures. And Carmen Cervera should not be asking the Spanish state for any payment. The Spanish state cannot afford it and the Madrid museum already loses money every year. So why pay more money to a wealthy Thyssen in order to lose even more money for the state? For the life of me I cannot think of a reason why Spain wants Carmen Thyssen’s third-rate pictures, when it already has too many first-rate pictures in other museums.

EM: What are the main difficulties faced by Tita to reach a satisfactory agreement?

DL: The main problems are her greed and Spain’s bad financial situation. She is trying to repeat the deal that her husband Heini made nearly 20 years ago. But she does not have his skill or knowledge. You did a terrible deal with Heini Thyssen. Even some of your own experts expressed scepticism about the wisdom of Spain buying his collection in 1993, for instance Eduard Castellet, President of the Fundacion Miro. So why would you want to do another, even more terrible deal?

EM: She says that she has offers from some museums in the USA and Europe. Can this be true?

DL: No, I don’t think that’s true. If she did, why would she not name them and say what they are offering her?

EM: She says she has as much money as people think…..Is it true?

DL: Her worth is never going to be what she says it is. I’m not sure she would even know herself. If she can claim that her pictures are worth €700 million, then of course she can claim to be a billionairess. But I believe that all of that is totally and completely exaggerated. Anyway, what does it matter how much money she has? She is taking money from Spain, not giving it.

EM: Is the Thyssen Collection overrated? Tita says it is worth €700 million.

DL: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (i.e. Heini’s collection sold to Spain in 1993) is worthless, because it cannot be sold and requires constant taxpayers’ support to be housed and exhibited. As far as the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection is concerned, as Carmen Cervera never says exactly what her collection comprises (240 pictures? 900 pictures? 3000 pictures?), it is impossible to value it. Therefore, what she is saying about its value is of no consequence. It is interesting, for instance, that the Spanish state seems to be insuring 655 of her pictures, when officially she is only exhibiting 240 at the Madrid museum:

http://vlex.com/vid/prestadas-coleccion-thyssen-bornemisza-15449009

EM: Can the negotiations affect the dispute between Tita and Borja and visa versa?

DL: Negotiations for what? She never says what she is negotiating. She constantly changes the number and nature of the pictures she wants Spain to rent from her. In Malaga, she is talking about a catalogue of 200 pictures, which only the conservative mayor has ever seen (not even the left-wing opposition in the town council has had the honour). The deal in Sant Feliu de Guixols is even more obscure, and yet she is talking about a ‘Thyssen museum network’ between the three locations. In the meantime, I calculate that Spain has already spent a total of around €100 milllion (!) to build facilities in Madrid, Malaga and Sant Feliu de Guixols to house parts of the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. If she is negotiating about pictures which are part of her son Borja Thyssen’s inheritance rights, then obviously he could challenge any deal.

EM: Do you think that being such a populist politician, Prime Minister Zapatero has a real interest in the collection with such a financial crisis as we currently have in Spain?

DL: I don’t understand why anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, would want to pay for pictures, some of which the Spanish state has already rejected before and others which were purchased from money previously paid to the Thyssens by the Spanish tax payer. It would be a bit like paying for the same thing twice!

EM: Tita said that the topic of her private collection is independent of the negotiations on the future of the Thyssen Museum. Do you think this is true?

DL: Carmen Cervera’s pictures housed in the Madrid museum since 2004 were not part of the original agreement with Heini, for which Spain paid $350 million in 1993 (according to my figures it was actually closer to $600 million if you include the real estate, architectural costs, insurance, lawyers fees, administration, etc,. etc.). Heini Thyssen did, however, manage to get a foot in the door for his wife by signing a separate agreement to loan an additional 70 pictures to the Madrid museum which remained in the ownership of him and Tita. This seems to be the basis of what she is trying to negotiate for Madrid now. This leads to an interesting point, which is that very few Spanish people (if any) have ever seen the original agreement. I have seen it, which is why I know that Spain made such a terrible deal.

I believe, that as a Spanish tax payer, you have the right to demand concrete information about all of this. At the moment, it is still all shrouded in a veil of smoke and mirrors. I can think of no reason why anyone would even consider acquiring her pictures, unless they are being paid some form of commission for doing so. On a personal level, I would also like to say that in my eyes, Carmen Cervera’s vulgarity and lack of taste actually damages Spain’s cultural image internationally. One more thing, which is very important: neither Tita nor Borja can do anything to affect the status of the original paintings bought by Spain from Heini Thyssen. Some reports make it sound like she could take Heini Thyssen’s pictures out of the Madrid museum as well. She cannot!

More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, More, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mas, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr, Mehr...

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Poor Spain!

It may be very sad but if there was ever an image that sums up what has become of Spain’s once great cultural heritage, it is this photograph (see above) of The Baroness of Bad Taste, Duchess of Greed, arriving in her gross ‘Panzermobile’ at ‘her’ museum.

As the excrement of corruption, greed, chat TV, celebrity-obsessed society and ‘dollar art’, as reflected in Hola, now covers whatever was once great about Spain and the true brilliance that undoubtedly still exists – and can even, occasionally, be seen through gaps in the scum – it becomes difficult not to believe that this is what the majority of Spanish people want or are prepared to accept.

They seem quite happy to have paid $600,000,000 for half of a second rate art ‘collection’ and spend yet further millions every year in subsidies, while this ugly recipient of their generosity demands yet more money.

So if, as it appears, their dreams really are now represented by Carmen Thyssen’s gross reality and overpriced art, then one can only accept the fact that she appears to be doing a very fine job.

Poor Spain!

http://www.abc.es/20100219/cultura-arte/carmen-thyssen-presenta-monet-201002191916.html

Lady ChaCha playing the Pink Joker (photo: Ines Baucells, ABC newspaper)

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Thyssen Art Elevator Hits Spanish Buffers

At last! Spain begins to question the quality of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, what the taxpayers might have got for their money and the wisdom of paying yet more money for ‘Tita’s Collection’. These were all things we have been publicly questioning for the last three years. So why has it taken so long? Without wishing to sound cynical, could it be a result of the credit crunch? While Spain was flooded with Euros, nobody wanted to see the King naked.

Today’s critic, Dr Juan Jose Junquera, is a Professor of Art History at Complutense University in Madrid, and as such could hardly claim to be a stranger to the collection. Perhaps the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation Board, particularly Sir Norman Rosenthal, will now be obliged to make a comment, though with Rosenthal’s wife still working at the Prado, he could of course be accused of a conflict of interest.

The following is a translation of the Spanish original from today’s ABC newspaper.

No wonder Tita is busy preparing Villa Favorita in Lugano for re-occupancy. This feature looks to me like the Culture Ministry’s way of say ‘No’ to any further deals with Tita and if this one hits the buffers, Malaga looks ever less likely.

“After reading Carmen Cervera’s declarations in ABC on Sunday 3 January, I’ve had the following thoughts: I’m not doubting the generosity of her offer to loan the Thyssen Collection, but I’m asking myself of how much interest it actually is to the Spanish taxpayers. We still don’t know which paintings will stay in Spain once the current cession agreement concerning the collection of her late husband, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, ends, which was a question raised in its day by the then Director of the Prado, Professor Perez Sanchez, and to which there still hasn’t been a reply. In the meantime, the Prado lacks good quality Dutch paintings, such as Franz Hals, gaps which the Dutch Masters of the Thyssen Collection cannot fill. Is it really advisable to spend the few Euros that the Culture Minisry has available in order to rent a Gauguin escorted by paintings of somewhat dubious quality and authenticity on a background of nineteenth century artists whose works already gather dust in the storage rooms of both the Prado and provincial museums? Nobody doubts the commercial acumen of Baroness Thyssen; but what we mustn’t do is buy a lift for a bungalow without discussing the matter in public.”

http://www.abc.es/20100110/opinion-cartas/lectores-20100110.html

ABC Y SUS LECTORES,  Domingo , 10-01-10

……..«La atenta lectura de las declaraciones de doña Carmen Cervera en ABC del domingo 3 de enero me sugiere unas reflexiones -dice JUAN JOSÉ JUNQUERA, catedrático de Historia del Arte de la Universidad Complutense-. No es que dude de la generosidad de su oferta de alquiler de la colección Thyssen, pero me pregunto hasta qué punto éste interesa a los contibuyentes españoles. Aún no sabemos cuáles son los cuadros que quedarán en España cuando acabe el convenio vigente de cesión de la colección de su difunto marido, el barón Thyssen-Bornemisza, pregunta que formuló en su día el que era director del Prado, profesor Pérez Sánchez y que aún no tiene respuesta. Mientras, el Prado carece de holandeses de calidad como Franz Hals, huecos que no cubren los maestros holandeses de la Colección Thyssen. ¿Realmente interesa gastar los poco euros de que dispone Cultura en alquilar un Gauguin escoltado por cuadros bien de dudosa calidad o autenticidad, bien de segundones decimonónicos cuyas obras decansan en los depósitos del Prado y de los museos de provincias? Nadie duda de las cualidades comerciales de la baronesa viuda Thyssen; lo que no debemos hacer es, sin discutirlo públicamente, comprar un ascensor para un chalet de planta baja……..».

One of Tita's ten 'Gauguins (?)', which could become the subject of her forthcoming 'cleansing' operation (see ABC newspaper on 03.01.2010).

"'The Crucifixion', attributed to a painter from the circle of Sir Anthony van Dyck, which Heini purchased from Sotheby's at the 1995 sale of the Bentinck-Thyssen Collection for only £17,000 and immediately re-attributed to the Master himself" (from: 'The Thyssen Art Macabre' / 'La Historia Secreta de los Thyssen')

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