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Five paintings by ‘Hitler’ fail to sell at controversial auction

Adolf Hitler and a painting signed ‘A. Hitler’. Images: AAP

Five paintings signed by ‘A. Hitler’ have passed in at auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg.

The paintings, supposedly from the Nazi dictator’s early years as an artist, failed to sell due to possible doubts over authenticity, the Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reported on Sunday.

The paintings received no bids, despite asking prices of between €19,000 (A$30,308) and €45,000 (A$71,783). The Weidler auction house did not say why there were no initial bidders.

A wicker armchair with a swastika symbol also failed to sell at auction.

It comes three days after the Weidler auction house, located where Nazi war criminals were tried in 2945, canceled the planned sale of another 26 artworks attributed to Hitler as authorities seized a total 63 potentially fake artworks.

In a statement, Weidler said withdrawing those paintings from sale did “not automatically mean they are fakes” and that the paintings could be sold at a later date.

Nuremberg mayor Ulrich Maly had earlier described the sale as “in bad taste”.

According to art critics, the paintings themselves aren’t great either.

Stephan Klingen of the Central Institute for Art History in Munich said Hitler had the style of “a moderately ambitious amateur”.

However, his works were similar to “hundreds of thousands” of other paintings. This also presents a problem for prosecutors, as it makes it difficult to determine the works’ authenticity.

“There’s a long tradition of this trade in devotional objects linked to Nazism,” Klingen told AFP.

“Every time there’s a media buzz about it… and the prices they’re bringing in have been rising constantly. Personally, that’s something that quite annoys me.”

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