'In the better and more perfect stream' : Persian carpets change owners: antikva and some aspects of the auction market in 1948–1953
Source document: Opuscula historiae artium. 2015, vol. 64, iss. 2, pp. 142-157
ISSN1211-7390 (print)2336-4467 (online)
License: Not specified license
Political developments in post-war Czechoslovakia and especially after 1948 ushered in dramatic social changes and transformed property and ownership ties, a consequence of the fight against the 'defeated' social class. This article focuses on some aspects of the contemporary auction market in the early stages of the formation of the totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia in 1948–1953. Many confiscated pieces of property made their way by legal or illegal means into the art market and sometimes even went straight into the international market. The continuous and undetected flow of confiscated property into private hands led in August 1949 to the nationalisation of private auction houses to form one state enterprise n. p. Obchodní domy, the monopoly network of the Antikva enterprises. The ongoing illegal flow of artistic property led to clashes between ministries as attempts to preserve 'state cultural property' in public collections were countered by the economic interests of the state, which was in the midst of an economic crisis. Nationalisation gave rise to an ideologically controlled sphere of art collection and trade and also to a distortion of prices which were artificially set by state bureaucrats.