King of Saxony's family win payout from state
Friday 04 February 2011
The east German state of Saxony was obliged yesterday to pay millions in compensation to descendants of the 17th century king "August the Strong" for hundreds of valuable porcelain artefacts confiscated by the communist authorities after the Second World War.
The porcelain treasure trove amounts to nearly 300 pieces – 17th and early 18th century figures and figurines which currently form part of Saxony's priceless royal art collections, many of which have been housed in museums in the state capital Dresden since the late 1950s.
Yesterday however, Saxony reluctantly agreed to pay €4.2m (£3.5m) to the Wettin family, the direct descendants of the 17th century king of Saxony and Poland. The state conceded that communist authorities had effectively stolen the royal porcelain from the family after 1945 and illegally declared it state property.
Steffen Winter, an arts commentator for Der Spiegel magazine, claimed yesterday that the payment was the beginning of a "compensation marathon that will keep the art world holding its breath for years".
The family head, Albert, Prince of Saxony, welcomed the ruling and said the payment would be of great financial help to the family as his elderly sisters were living in "depressing circumstances" in small apartments in Munich, while he lived in rented accommodation.
The family hid much of the collection in a walled-up section of a cellar in Saxony's Schloss Mortizburg castle before fleeing from the invading Soviet Army in the spring of 1945. The rest was given to a Protestant pastor who hid the artefacts in a church attic. But in 1947, the communist authorities discovered both caches and promptly confiscated them.
Under new laws adopted by eastern Germany after reunification in 1990, the Wettins have been able in principle to reclaim the objects. However, securing their return in practice has been a different matter.
The family sought the help of a Berlin law firm which, in 2005, began trawling through kilometres of microfilm in Saxony's state archives for evidence that the Wettins were the original owners of the artefacts.
Early on, the search produced six large porcelain figures including two lions. The state of Saxony refused to pay compensation at the time, so the apparently cash-strapped Wettins put them up for auction at Christie's where they fetched £2.8m in 2006.
- 1 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 2 Art Garfunkel: Paul Simon is a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
- 3 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...