Germany Stops Broadcaster From Selling Expressionist Works by Kirchner and Beckmann

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Berglandschaft mit Almhütten (1921) Photo: reproarte.com
WDR Headquarters in Cologne, Germany Photo: Raimond Spekking via Wikimedia Commons

WDR Headquarters in Cologne, Germany
Photo: Raimond Spekking via Wikimedia Commons

German public broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), which controversially put some of its art collection up for sale to pay off debts, has been banned from exporting two paintings by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann.

A spokesperson for North-Rhine Westphalia’s culture minister Ute Schäfer confirmed that the state filed a request to add the works to the list of nationally important cultural goods, Rheinische Post reported.

Under German law, the artworks are prohibited from leaving the country while the probe is underway. Meanwhile, the spokesperson said that the successful inclusion of Beckmann’s Möwen Im Sturm and Kirchner’s Berglandschaft mit Almhütten into the registry was “probable.”

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Berglandschaft mit Almhütten (1921) Photo: reproarte.com

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Berglandschaft mit Almhütten (1921)
Photo: reproarte.com

The WDR is planning to deaccession 50 works from its 600-piece collection at Sotheby’s London. The broadcaster expects roughly five of the earmarked works to fetch six-figure sums.

“One thing is clear: WDR will only sell the works whose sale is in accordance with the applicable statutory regulations,” the station announced in a statement.

The broadcaster also pledged to conduct “detailed and clear” provenance research into each of the artworks. “The list of works will be announced and presented to the public only after the examination has been completed,” WDR said.

The sale is due to take place at Sotheby's London early next year Photo: courtesy Sotheby's

The sale is due to take place at Sotheby’s London early next year
Photo: courtesy Sotheby’s

German culture minister Monika Grütters criticized the planned sale. Grütters has been the primary proponent of the government’s controversial plans to amend the German cultural protection legislation.

Related stories:

German Broadcaster Selling Off Collection to Cover Debts

German Officials Hope to Save Portigon AG’s State-Owned Art Collection from Deaccession


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