The Polish government has purchased an extensive art collection worth over $2 billion for just $104.2 million.
The 86,000-strong collection has been sold by the family of Princess Izabela Czartoryska, who started her collection in 1802. It includes such works as Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine and Rembrandt’s Landscape with the Good Samaritan, in addition to over 250,000 books, manuscripts and prints.
Selling the collection to the Polish Culture Ministry hasn’t been without its controversies, however. The head of the Czartoryska Foundation has resigned in protest of the deal, which was agreed by a descendant of Princess Izabela, Adam Karol Czartoryski. The Foundation’s head claims that the sale was carried out without due diligence, and that it may not be valid under the Foundation’s bylaws.
Mr Czartoryski, however, argues that his ancestors had “always worked for the Polish nation” and that the sale represents a continuation of their work.
The Polish government’s purchase forms part of a wider project by Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice party (PS) to nationalise certain cultural organisations, artifacts and businesses.