DATELINE: Raphael’s Young Man Abducted
For over 70 years, one of the premiere items from a Krakow art museum has been missing, plundered and stolen by Nazi terrorists in the early 1940s. The work, by Raphael, is the remarkable Portrait of a Young Man. Today, if it is located, the value is put at around $100million.
If you want someone with expertise and knowledge to be the centerpiece of a miniseries on Nazi Treasure Hunters,you would likely call on James Holland who also examined such diverse issues as Nazi pep pills.
You don’t need much incentive to go looking for a impressive Raphael Renaissance painting. It was one of three the museum owned: a Leonardo and Rembrandt were the others. It’s a small but extraordinary trio.
Only Raphael’s fey young man in a black beret remains lost.
Most interesting is the fact that elderly sons of powerful Nazi leaders are more than willing to criticize their fathers and their ruthless attitude. Hans Frank’s youngest son called his father “a cultured killer,” and he believed his mother sold the Raphael for food after the war when her executed husband left her to raise children without funds or help. He didn’t think much of his parents, as his mother called herself “Queen of Poland,” only half in jest during the Nazi occupation.
The painting was the victim of a tug of war between Goering and Frank for two years before Hitler tired of their bickering to send it back to Krakow—and a fate under the control of an art restorer who had rejected Nazism and was sent to Poland as a punishment.
As often happens in these shows, they have set up a public forum to flush out the lost painting. Maybe it will hit the news, but the picture may be in some attic in Silesia. Or it will be sold to a billionaire Saudi who collects private art, never again to be seen (sort of like the Leonardo sold at auction a few years ago)>