German State-Owned Portigon Collection Saved From Deaccession

Portigon is being forced to sell its assets by the EU to pay back a bailout loan. Photo: Marek Gehrmann via Wikimedia Commons

Officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) have introduced preliminary measures to save the art collection of the state-owned bank Portigon AG, Monopol reports.

Officials presented a three-step plan devised to save the collection of the rebranded Portigon AG, successor to WestLB, which folded in the aftermath of the 2012 financial crisis. The bank considered selling its museum-quality art collection to pay back an EU bailout loan (see German Officials Hope to Save Portigon AG’s State-Owned Art Collection from Deaccession).

To secure the most valuable pieces of the WestLb art collection, NRW Minister of Culture, Ute Schäfer, announced on Monday that an initial export ban has been imposed on eleven artworks by placing them on the list of nationally significant cultural goods. The items include two Stradivari violins as well as artworks by August Macke, Henry Moore, and Max Ernst.

“These entries are just the beginning,” Schäfer said, adding that an additional sixty works were currently being appraised to determine whether they are eligible for protection under German heritage legislation. This process would prevent the works from being sold to oversees collectors and institutions.

Following a proposal by the CDU opposition in the NRW parliament, the collection is now in the process of being transferred to the state collection of North Rhine-Westphalia. The works are to be bought by NRW for the state-owned museum at the collection’s insurance value, which stands at €28 million.

The acquisition will reportedly be financed with proceeds from the two state-owned Warhol silkscreen prints which were sold at Christie’s in November for $151.5 million.


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