LONDON, U.K. - A collection of never before seen nude portraits by Nazi leader Adolph Hitler fetched nearly $350,000 Thursday. They had only been expected to raise about $120,000, auction house Bullocks of Slopshire estimates.
"They belonged to a regular vendor of ours," said Charles Gloucesterbury Wellesbourne, a historical documents expert at Bullocks. "None of us expected the collection to fare as well as it could have in this economy, and we initially advised him not to sell right away. However, due to the astonishing nature of the subject matter, the auction surpassed all expectations."
The collection of 42 nude portraits are shocking for their content, exquisite in their sensitivity. Though the frank homosexual eroticism of stylized black and white portraits of naked men taken by the Fuhrer is a surprise, perhaps none are more startling than the sexually charged photographs of Jewish and black men. Many of these appear to have been anonymous prisoners hand-selected by Hitler and secretly cared for.
Hitler also documented a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. His nude portraits of Anton Drexler and Dietrich Eckart, ca. 1919, and of Himmler, Goring and Goebbels in the 30's and 40's indicate these people were hiding much more than just concentration camps. So, in fact, was Eva Braun; one of the portraits has revealed her to have been endowed with a full set of masculine genitalia and a prosthetic bosom, perhaps explaining why Hitler was known to become so infuriated when Eva sunbathed in the nude.
Money raised by the auction will be used to help finance projects and fund medical research in the fight against HIV-related infection and AIDS.