Czechs buy back past

State secured over 100 lots at House of Liechtenstein sale

AMSTERDAM/VIENNA. The Czech Republic’s cash-strapped ministry of culture was one of the biggest buyers at Christie’s Amsterdam’s sale of furniture and objects from the Princely House of Liechtenstein on 1 April, purchasing over 100 lots. It was trying to secure as many items as possible which had originated from three Moravian castles which used to belong to

the family—Eisgrub, Sternberg and Feldsberg. All are now museums.

The reigning Prince Hans-Adam II consigned 450 second- and third-tier items from Liechtenstein’s vast collections, with a further 40 paintings going to Christie’s old master sale in London on 1 July.

The Amsterdam sale made a total of E5.4m ($8.3m) double its estimate of E2m-E3m. According to Stefan Doebner, co-head of Christie’s Amsterdam furniture department, the family’s connections to the Czech Republic and Austria, where it still owns property, explained the strong results. “We had a lot of clients from the Czech Republic, as well as the state, and several Czech dealers are interested in buying for the market,” Mr Doebner says. “Austrian dealers also know that items from the Liechtenstein family also do well in Vienna.”

The Czech Republic bought 10% of the total by value, spending all of its allocated Kc13m ($825,000). Feldsberg castle added two paintings to its collection: Family Portrait in a Wooded River Land­scape by Klaes Molenaer 1610-76 (E13,450), and a still-life by Jan Pieter Brueghel for E60,250.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted,” says Ivana Holásková, director at Eisgrub castle, because of budget constraints, although a Czech patron helped out, spending E32,000 on three paintings on behalf of the museum.

Ms Holásková is also interested in works in the July old master sale, but with considerably higher estimates expected, she does not know if the Czech ministry of culture can compete.

Olga Kronsteiner

and Nina Siegal

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