Hitler works discovered in suitcase are auctioned

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A watercolour by Adolf Hitler fetched £10,500 at auction yesterday in a sale of his work that raised more than £118,000, double its estimate.

The Church of Preux-Au-Bois sold for £10,500, far exceeding its £3,500 estimated price at the sale at Jefferys Auctioneers in Lostwithiel, Cornwall.

Before the auction, critics expressed disapproval over selling works by the most notorious dictator of modern times, but this did not dent buyers' interest.

Carlo, from Estonia, said he was working for an eastern European businessman, adding: "I had a budget to bid for anything that has Hitler's signature. I have something to take back.

"I think they are probably being bought for business - the paintings are not very good and it's not nice to have a Hitler on your living-room wall."

The works, which vary from postcard-sized watercolours to larger works, were found in Belgium in a suitcase in an attic, close to where Hitler served during the First World War, and were found to be stylistically similar to other work by the German leader.

Some of the works were signed "A Hitler", while others bore the initials, "AH", and they featured mainly landscapes, some with buildings. Steps were taken to prove the authenticity of the watercolours without success, according to the auctioneers, but the paper has been dated and the style of the works was found to be consistent with Hitler's other series of paintings.

It has been reported that the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted the auctioneer after reading about the sale of a single Hitler watercolour last November. The portrait of a German postman, painted in 1924, fetched £5,200.

A spokesman for Jefferys said: "The sale itself went very well, the prices exceeded our expectations."

He brushed off an incident involving Aaron Barschak, the self-proclaimed comedy terrorist who gate-crashed Prince William's 21st birthday party in 2003.

Barschak, with a man dressed as the Nazi dictator, shouted across the auction house in Cornwall to say they were bidding "£6m" for one work, claiming the painting was a "Mussolini".

They were escorted out by security officers, as Barschak shouted: "See - they're throwing Jews out!"

"We like to think of this as our Guernica", he said, referring to Pablo Picasso's painting of the effect of the German attack in 1937 on the Spanish town, the first place to be targeted by Hitler's bombing campaign. He added: "Why is this auction being hidden away from publicity in a corner of Cornwall? We wanted to bring it to people's attention."

His wife, Tamara, added: "This is a comical protest. The sale here is offensive - it should never have been held. Adolf Hitler was a mass murderer and to make money from that is wrong."

Jefferys said: "The protest is not worth any comment. It was a schoolboy prank, and we are very pleased with the way it was handled by the security staff."

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