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Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK


Hitler paintings unearthed

Street life: Hitler scraped a living selling the paintings (Picture from Iranian TV)

Two watercolour paintings by German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler have turned up - in a cellar in Iran.

The two small pictures were painted in Vienna in 1911 or 1912 when the future head of the Nazi regime, who was in his early 20s at the time, was dreaming of a career as an artist.

Hitler is thought to have given the paintings showing Vienna street scenes to the Iranian ambassador to Germany. Iran was sympathetic to Germany during World War II.

[ image: Framed: The paintings have been authenticated says Iran]
Framed: The paintings have been authenticated says Iran
They were discovered several years ago during an inventory of some 60,000 various works of art seized by the Foundation of the Disinherited - an organisation founded during the 1979 Islamic revolution to administer property confiscated from Iran's imperial family and its associates.

Mohammad Reza Javaheri, museum director of the Foundation, said the authenticity of the paintings had been confirmed by "European art experts".

The paintings could be hung in a museum of modern art.

"The foundation does not intend to sell the paintings. They will remain in its collection," said Mr Javaheri.

No buyers

The first painting depicts the old Rotunda building in Vienna, which was used for an international hall at the end of the 19th century. It no longer exists.

[ image: Hitler:
Hitler: "I didn't want to become an artist"
The second shows a street in one of the older districts of Vienna thronged with people dressed in 18th and 19th century costumes - one of them bearing a curious resemblance to the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.

However, no value has yet been set on the pictures, which are more interesting because of who painted them than for their artistic merit.

Twice failed

Even Hitler appeared embarrassed by the paintings when they became collectors' items at the height of his power.

He said: "I didn't want to become an artist. I painted that stuff only to make a living."

Hitler, born into a family of peasants and modest civil servants, twice failed entry examinations for the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

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