Swiss Museum Goes Bankrupt Trying To Keep Joseph Beuys Masterpiece

The Joseph Beuys installation ‘Das Kapital Raum’ (1970-1977), which featured at the 1980 Venice Biennale, and was personally rebuilt by the artist at the newly opened Hallen für Neue Kunst, a Swiss museum, in 1984 – has been sold for an undisclosed price, Focus reports.

The museum was forced to close in 2014 when it lost an appeal after the Schaffhausen Supreme Court ordered it to hand over the Beuys installation to its rightful owners, who have subsequently sold the important work of art.

The installation was the centre of a legal dispute between the Halle für Neue Kunst and three investors between 2004 and 2014. Following an argument over the future of the museum, the trio, which owned the artwork, decided to claim it back. The court eventually ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, arguing that the artwork did indeed belong to the investors’ company, Crexart AG. The piece was subsequently sold privately.

According to the foundation managing the museum Neue Zürcher Zeitung, which was founded with a mere CHF80,000 or £54,942 endowment, was unable to pay the CHF 180,000 or £123,000 in legal fees and the CHF221,000 or £151,546 in compensation accrued during the drawn-out lawsuit to keep hold of its most important piece of art, and after failing to attract potential investors to the museum, the foundation was left on the verge of bankruptcy.

The removal and subsequent sale of the installation has been widely criticised, which means that the small town of Schaffhausen has lost one of its most significant cultural attractions. A spokesperson for the Schaffhausen told Focus “We view this development with regret.”

On Friday Monopol reported that the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced that the collector Erich Marx had bought the work and was permanently loaning the installation to Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie.

However, in light of these events Joseph Beuys’ widow, Eva, has long made it clear that she does not condone the sale of her husband’s installation, and would consider any attempt to remove the artwork from its intended location in Schaffhausen amounting to its destruction.


, , ,