German State-Owned Portigon Collection Plan To Save Works From Deaccession


In January of this year the German state-owned bank Portigon AG of North Rhine-Westphalia, the rebranded successor of the WestLB which folded in 2012 during the financial crisis, decided to deaccession its entire art collection. The bank holds approximately 400-pieces of art, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, August Macke, Joseph Beuys, and Günther Uecker. Now preliminary measures to save the art collection of the state-owned bank, have been introduced by officials in the German state, Monopol reports.

The officials have presented a three-step plan devised to save the collection of Portigon, the bank considered selling its museum-quality art collection to pay back an EU bailout loan.

To secure the most valuable works of art in the WestLb collection, NRW Minister of Culture, Ute Schäfer, announced on Monday that an initial export ban has been imposed on eleven artworks by placing them on the list of nationally significant cultural artefacts. The items include artworks by August Macke, Henry Moore, and Max Ernst.

“These entries are just the beginning,” Schäfer said, adding that there is an additional sixty works of art that were currently being appraised to determine whether they are eligible for protection under German heritage legislation. A process that would prevent the works from being sold to oversees collectors or institutions.

The collection is now in the process of being transferred to the state collection of North Rhine-Westphalia, following a proposal by the CDU opposition in the NRW parliament,. The works are to be bought by NRW for the state-owned museum at the collection’s insurance value, which stands at €28 million, or £20.3 million.

The acquisition will reportedly be paid for with proceeds from the two state-owned Warhol’s which were sold at Christie’s in November for $151.5 million, or £109.5 million.


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