Enitled Composition, the painting went under the hammer at the Grisebach auction house for EUR 310,000, Polish state news agency PAP reported, citing Poland’s embassy in Berlin.
The watercolour had been stolen from the National Museum in the Polish capital in 1984, officials said.
Commenting on Thursday’s transaction, Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Minister Piotr Gliński said in a tweet: “The German auction house acted like an ordinary fence: It sold the Kandinsky even though it knew the painting had been stolen from a Polish museum.”
The painting had been found at the Grisebach auction house by officials from Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, who monitor the foreign art market, reporters were told.
The ministry then asked the Berlin auction house to cancel the auction so that they could analyse the watercolour and take further steps, the PAP news agency reported.
The ministry said in a statement: “Despite the stance of the culture ministry and the action taken by the Polish embassy in Berlin, the Grisebach auction house decided to sell Wassily Kandinsky’s watercolour.”
It added: “In the view of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the fact that the history of the painting is universally known, and that it retains the marks of ownership by the National Museum in Warsaw, mean that any sale of the painting following its theft cannot be regarded as made in good faith.”
The Polish culture ministry called Thursday’s transaction “highly unethical” and said it would take “all the possible legal steps to retrieve the artwork,” the PAP news agency reported.
Source: IAR, PAP, bankier.pl .europa.eu