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Goering's Art Collection

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Hermann Goering was a World War I ace fighter pilot with over 20 confirmed kills to his name.  He was the successor of Mannfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, and commanded Richthofen’s famous Flying Circus squadron.  He was a real war hero and very popular in Germany, even more than Hitler himself.  Many Germans referred to him as ‘unsere Hermann’ (our Herman).  When he was younger, he was good looking and a snappy dresser.  Later on he got fat, took to wearing very colorful costumes, and became a buffoon with an exceedingly high opinion of himself.  He was also an opportunist, murderer, and enthusiastic participant in the whole Nazi horror.

Goering was eager to be thought of as a man of culture, and he was also Hitler’s second in command and good friend.  Since Hitler was an art fanatic, collecting art helped Goering with both the culture thing and the Hitler friendship.  He named his country mansion Carinhall, after his first wife and, by all accounts, true love.  Eventually his collection got so large, that he turned Carinhall into a museum of epic proportions.

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Just one of the many galleries at Carinhall


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Hitler presenting ‘Die Falkerin’ by Hans Makart to Goering

Ironic footnote:

Goering’s prized painting was a Vermeer called ‘Christ with the Adulteress.’  He paid the equivalent of $7 million to get his hands on it, and thought he was getting a great deal.  The only problem: it was a fake produced by one of the most successful forgers of all time, Dutchman Han van Meegeren.  Van Meegeren had a brilliant career painting and selling numerous forgeries of old masters. He would never have been caught had he not sold ‘Christ with the Adulteress’ to a dealer who sold it on to Goering. 

Unfortunately for Han, selling Dutch master paintings to the Nazis was considered unpatriotic and a crime. When Dutch authorities arrested him after the war, he feared he would be executed, so he confessed to the lesser crime of forgery.  His forgeries were so good that no one believed him at first and he was made to paint a forgery under the observing eyes of the court.  The court finally believed him, but he died of a heart attack before his forgery sentence could start.

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Goering’s fake Vermeer being recovered

By Francisco Serrador

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Francisco Serrador

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