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AROUND SLOVAKIA

Region pays €1m for Warhol prints

AMONG the world's leading modern artists, Andy Warhol is perhaps closest to Slovak hearts: his parents moved to America from from the village of Miková near the town of Medzilaborce in eastern Slovakia. The Andy Warhol Museum in Medzilaborce was founded only two years after the first Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, the SITA newswire wrote. But the Medzilaborce museum and a set of Warhol prints are now at the core of a political dispute.

Medzilaborce's Andy Warhol Museum.(Source: Jana Liptáková)

AMONG the world's leading modern artists, Andy Warhol is perhaps closest to Slovak hearts: his parents moved to America from from the village of Miková near the town of Medzilaborce in eastern Slovakia. The Andy Warhol Museum in Medzilaborce was founded only two years after the first Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, the SITA newswire wrote. But the Medzilaborce museum and a set of Warhol prints are now at the core of a political dispute.

The museum borrowed a set of 26 Warhol prints out of a total of 30 in a series from a private collector, Eugen Gališin. The set is titled Ten Portrayals of Jews of the 20th century which Gališin received from Warhol’s brother under the condition that he lend the set to the museum for 20 years. Now, however, Gališin has offered to sell them to the museum for an asking price of €1 million. The museum is owned by the Prešov Region government and the regional parliament failed to approve a deal to purchase the prints in February by a single vote. In mid April, a second vote was held that was approved by 30 representatives, with 23 against and 4 abstentions.

The discussion before the vote was long and turbulent with primarily right-wing parliamentarians speaking against the deal, arguing that the price was too high. The chairman of the right-wing caucus, Juraj Hurný, told SITA that the price was unilaterally set by the owner of the prints and that the commission authorised to approve the deal had no information about prices of comparable Warhol works. Hurný added that his caucus made inquiries about the price for other Warhol prints of the series and had received two other offers, one from the Barbara Gillman Gallery in Florida (€138,000 for the complete portfolio) and also one from Coskum Fine Art in London (€170,000) but that these were for so-called “main prints”. The “author’s prints”, those offered by Gališin, are estimated to be worth around €400,000, SITA wrote.

Parliamentarians from the Smer and Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) parties are the main proponents of consummating the deal with Gališin and have argued that these particular prints are signed and foliated by Warhol himself. The president of Prešov Region, Peter Chudík, pressed hard for the purchase, arguing that the works signed by Warhol are held in higher esteem and would improve the museum’s reputation, the TASR newswire wrote.

In February some members of the regional parliament, among them Štefan Kužma of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), proposed the cancellation of the deal in order to seek more information about the current market value of Warhol’s works so that as many as possible could be bought for €1 million.

Part of the recently approved deal with Gališin, as adopted by the Prešov Region parliament, is for the private collector to lend an additional 27 Warhol works to the museum.

But the deal's opponents are not happy. “We find the price exaggerated,” said Hurný, as quoted by TASR. “We will file a motion with the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the economy and management of public finances by the regional representatives. And we will also file a motion with the Public Procurement Office to look into whether all necessary requirements were fulfilled here.”


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