Oskar Kokoschka's painting Woman and Slave did not sell for 200 million crowns

Oskar Kokoschka's painting Woman and Slave did not sell for 200 million crowns

>> Illustration photo – Austrian painter, graphic artist and writer Oskar Kokoschka in his studio in 1956.

Prague – Oskar Kokoschka's painting The Woman and the Slave (Frau mit dem Sklaven), called for a record sum of 200 million crowns, did not sell at today's auction in Prague. The domestic auction record thus continues to belong to the painting Old Prague motif by Bohumil Kubišta, which was sold last year for 123.6 million crowns. Kokoschk's painting was offered today by the auction house Adolf Loos Apartment & Gallery, several works were sold at the auction for millions.

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Bohumil Kubišta's Portrait of a Reader (Portrait of Prof. Antonín Matějček) was sold today for a starting price of 15 million crowns. Kubišta painted the picture during his second stay in Paris. It represents the art historian and Kubišt's close friend, Antonín Matějček (1889 to 1950), reading. Including the auction surcharge, the new owner will pay 18.15 million crowns for the painting.

Jean Albert Gorin's painting entitled Composition No. 3 based on an equilateral triangle was sold for 19.66 million crowns including the surcharge. Emil Filla's oil entitled Still life with a falcon and a tray from 1930 found a buyer for the final price of 18.45 million crowns. Josef Šíma's painting Le ciel de pierre (Stone Sky) was sold for over 13 million crowns, including markup.

The most expensive work by Kokoschk that was sold at auction in the Czech Republic remains to this day the painting Prague – View from the Crusader Monastery, which was auctioned for 78.5 million crowns in 2019 and became a Czech auction record at the time.

The organizers offered only 52 items in the selective auction today, their reserve price started at 100,000 crowns. Bidding could be done in the hall, by telephone, online or by written limit, only in the case of the most expensive work, the organizer excluded the online auction in advance. However, for the entire duration of the auction, the online broadcast, to which two hundred followers were connected by the end of the auction, struggled with an absent sound broadcast, and the organizers received criticism for this from those interested in the broadcast.

Kokoschk's painting is dramatic not only in its expressive depiction of a man and woman, but also in its fate and story. The painting from 1920 has had many owners, according to the catalog of the auction house that held the auction today, it was purchased before 1929 by the German lawyer and collector of Jewish origin, Fritz Salo Glaser. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, he lost his legal practice as a Jew, after 1937 he could not even continue his work as a tax advisor. He had to start selling works of art to support his family and pay the Jewish property tax. In 1942, the painting was acquired well below the market price by the German businessman and art collector Hans Dittmayer, Glaser's collection was transferred to Petrovice and in 1945 to Prague.

In September 1945, the Czech authorities arrested him for collaborating with the Nazi regime. He died in the spring of 1946 and his family was deported from Czechoslovakia. Probably between his arrival in Prague and his arrest, Dittmayer sold Kokoschk's painting through the Václav Hořejš Gallery, according to the organizer of today's auction. After that, the painting was in several private collections. 15 years ago, Glaser's heirs applied for it and claimed restitution. The sale of the painting was supposed to bring money to satisfy their demands, and it also had an export permit from the Czech state.

According to the catalog for today's auction, the painting represents Kokoschko's former girlfriend Alma Mahler as a slave woman and Kokoschka as a slave, it is supposed to be Kokoschka's artistic by reckoning with his muse and lover. The Austrian artist had an affair between 1912 and 1914 with Mahler, the widow of the composer Gustav Mahler. This matter deeply influenced his life and work. According to the Austrian newspaper der Standard, which cited art historian Alfred Weidinger, this theory may be wrong and the painting may be of the actress Käthe Richter and the poet Walter Hasenclever, whom Kokoschka had previously painted.