It’s not exactly like the sudden frenzy over buying paintings of Michael Jackson, but it’s something similar: three paintings by Adolf Hitler are hitting the auction block in two weeks, and are expected to continue to fetch increasingly large sums. Back in April an auction of 15 pieces by the eventual Nazi party leader raised some $120,000, and in 2006 six pieces went for a total of $171,000. As a youth, Hitler was an aspiring painter, and some suggest that his rejection from art school was one of the most significant moments on his journey to becoming Modern history’s biggest monster.
At any rate, looking at his work (pictured) you can understand why it wouldn’t fly in the early 20th century (except with tourists, to whom he would sell watercolor copies of postcards). It’s not nearly edgy or inventive enough to pass in an Expressionist or Cubist salon, but also not sufficiently academic to get him into a state art program. Which begs the question: why are people spending more and more money on his paintings? (In 1960 two pieces were sold for $1,000, and in 1991 two more went for a total of $5,300.) Is it some kind of macabre fascination with evil? Do these collectors just have terrible taste? Is it a neo-Nazi scheme to launder money into Hitler’s estate? Whatever it is, it’s creepy.