How did the Polish government buy $2 billion worth of art, including a da Vinci, for less than a tenth of their value?
The Polish government has signed a deal to purchase $2 billion worth art collection for just over $100 million. The prestigious art collection was acquired by the Polish Culture Ministry who declared they paid just €100 million, from the Czartoryski family. The bid is aimed at providing the future generations of Poles the luxury of seeing the collection for themselves.
The collection includes some 86,000 artifacts, one of them is the famous Lady with an Ermine that was created by the legendary Leonardo da Vinci. Another is the Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan. It also includes some 250,000 books and other library items that were housed in the private Czartoryski Museum in Krakow.
It is believed that the collection was started by Princess Izabela Czartoryska in 1802, and has since been managed by her descendants through the Czartoryska Foundation.
Her descendant Adam Karol Czartoryski was the one who brokered the deal which he called a donation. However, the head of the board of the Czartoryska Foundation resigned in protest to the deal.
There wasn’t as much protest within the board about the sale as much as there was protest over the selling price. The board of management said it had been carried out without due diligence, and believed there should’ve been a fair estimate of the collection’s worth.
Da Vinci’s, 1490, Lady with an Ermine was only one of four portraits he did of women, including the iconic Mona Lisa that sits at the Louvre. It depicts a certain Cecilia Gallerani, a young mistress of the Duke of Milan who was nicknamed The White Ermine.
The painting has been stolen by Nazis during the occupation of Poland in the Second World War, but was later given back to the family.