Stored in the salt mines, caves, castles and cathedrals of Europe from 1933 to 1945 were hundreds of thousands of art treasures, all stolen by the Nazis. Although Hitler was refused admission twice to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, he fancied himself to be a connoisseur of fine art and had plans to open a Fuhrermuseum, a series of museums and galleries, to showcase these pieces. On a visit to Paris in 1940, he confiscated several art treasures and only added to this collection as the war progressed. Word spread quickly that the Nazis were plundering art galleries; the Mona Lisa was moved at least six times to avoid being confiscated. While the Nazis did not find the Mona Lisa, they did confiscate the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, the Peking Man (500,000 years old), and the Ark of the Covenant (the one that Indiana Jones was searching for in the movie). The Nazis also stole Raphael's "Portrait of a Young Man" as well as Manet's "In the Conservatory". While the latter painting was retrieved by Allied soldiers, the former painting still remains at large. In fact, 100,000 pieces were never found. Here is a list of the top 10 "objets d'art" looted by the Nazis according to www.toptenz.net:
10. Saint Justa & Saint Rufina (Murillo
9. Painter on the Road to Tarascon (Van Gogh)
8. Portrait of Dr. Gachet (Van Gogh)
7. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (Klimt)
6. Foundation E.G. Buhrle (Cezanne)
5. Altarpiece of Veit Stoss (Stoss)
4. Place de la Concorde (Degas)
3. The Astronomer (Vermeer)
2. Amber Room (Schluter)*
1. Madonna of Bruges (Michelangelo)
*To learn more about the Amber Room, read my blog dated July 26, 2011.
Carlo III di Borbone che visita il papa Benedetto XIV nella coffee-house del Quirinale a Roma by Giovanni Paolo Pannini. Photo courtesy http://upload.wikimedia.org.