Nationalization of Auction Business in Czechoslovakia : State Interests, Monopoly Art Market and Legislation

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Rok publikování 2020
Druh Vyžádané přednášky
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Filozofická fakulta

Přiložené soubory
Popis The political situation after the 1939-45 war as well as Yalta conference in distinctly left-oriented Central Europe led not only to rapid expulsion of hostile, i.e. German/Hungarian-speaking population, but also to extensive displacements of artistic assets of former social elites. During the first post-war decade, the developed art market in Czechoslovakia; primarily in its auction form, faced an unprecedented boom related to the wave of antiquities coming from the former residences of nobility and bourgeoisie. Even if the relevant legislation sought to preserve especially valuable movable assets in public collections and set up a National Cultural Commission for this purpose, the disputes among the interests of the various state ministries still incited both legal and illegal flows of art assets through domestic market. In contrast to efforts to preserve “state cultural assets” for public purposes, the economic – or rather the foreign exchange – interests of the state underwent a structural economic crisis at that time stood. The large set of antiquities, art industrial objects, carpets, antique furniture, as a rule with no provenance indications given, were sold at significantly reduced prices, often heading to foreign market. As a potential “helpful” measure the communist state initiated the immediate nationalization of private auction businesses during the summer of 1949. Nevertheless, even this monopoly business network controlled by official authorities failed to prevent large-scale leaks of valuable property to the hands of speculators. But it certainly succeeded in implementing the new ideological criteria and setting the new regulations for both market participants and goods offered. Actually, the situation changed in the moment, when the market with nationalized property has exhausted in terms of both supply and demand. The paper intends to examine the discrepancies among legislation efforts and practical functioning of the market, both in its free and then monopoly directed forms, during the critical period of early post-war years in Central Europe. It also seeks for potential consequences for contemporary market; it asks after connections among historical and contemporary behaviour of its participants, regardless of legislation.
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