Czartoryski’s Sale

This is interesting:

The Polish government has bought a world-famous art collection, including a rare Leonardo da Vinci painting, for a fraction of its market value.

The Czartoryski collection was sold for €100m ($105m; £85m) despite being estimated at about €2bn.

The head of the Czartoryski family, which owned the collection, said it was a “donation”, but the board of its foundation resigned in protest.

The Czartoryski Foundation’s management board said it was not consulted about the sale, which was negotiated between Poland’s culture ministry and Adam Karol Czartoryski, a descendent of Princess Izabela Czartoryska, who founded the collection in 1802.

Mr Czartoryski, the foundation’s head, said he was following his ancestors who “always worked for the Polish nation”.

“I felt like making a donation and that’s my choice,” he said.

I have no idea how foundations work, let alone how this one worked, but I suspect Mr Czartoryski (or his forebears) ceded partial control of the Czartoryski Foundation to a board but retained certain rights, one of which was the right to flog the collection.

The Czartoryski Foundation’s board of management said it did not oppose selling the collection to the government, but that it was concerned that selling without due diligence – including estimating a fair price – may be against its bylaws, Reuters reported.

It may be?  You’d have thought a board of management would know this, wouldn’t you? I suspect they are just pissed off they’ve been utterly bypassed by Czartoryski and/or stood to gain something should the collection have been sold at full price.

Either way, it’s hard to see what Czartoryski has done wrong.

Chairman Marian Wolkowski-Wolski told the news agency there was a risk of the collection’s eventual dispersal out of public control.

Erm, it wasn’t in public control when it was part of the Czartoryski Foundation.  What angle are you pushing here, madam?


6 thoughts on “Czartoryski’s Sale

  1. The market for art works is one of the last bastions of “free trade” a fact that opens it up to repeated accusations of skullduggery, money laundering and tax evasion and something that intertest me.

    “Because there are few widows and orphans in the art market, there appears to be little need or public outcry to fix the system. Who is hurt? Nobody but artists who fail to willingly or adroitly play the game. And, perhaps, the culture itself, surrendering art to drug lords, oligarchs, money launderers and international vulgarians, and forcing the rest of us to admire what we might, given more rational values, disdain.”

    The sale that caught my attention was the sale of Cezanne Card Players by a Greek shipping magnate to the Qatari Royal Family in 2011. So what, well it just happened to transact when Qatari was supplying mercenary services for the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya. Libyan shipping companies at the time were a threat to his Greek shipping agencies right across the Med for market share. Anyhow as we now know Gaddafi and Libyan shipping agencies lost and this Greek shipping firm now moves the oil from Libya and the Qataris get to hang their say $300m oil and canvas artwork in their palace walls.

    All I can say its that at least its not Modern Art which has to go down as one of the largest most brazen money scams that remains to this day unbusted. Never mind that the CIA said that they set it up in the first place.

  2. Socialism?

    Naked self-interest, I’d say. They sound for all the world like people who have lost out on some cash.

  3. “They sound for all the world like people who have lost out on some cash.”

    They have in a sense, with the unstated equity in question being gifted to the Polish state a debt in kind paid no doubt for some other type of service or exchange.

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