Were valuable art works an economic form of money during the German Third Reich Period and its aftermath?

  • Received August 23, 2017;
    Accepted November 30, 2017;
    Published December 20, 2017
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  • DOI
    http://dx.doi.org/10.21511/pmf.06(4).2017.04
  • Article Info
    Volume 6 2017, Issue #4, pp. 33-38
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This examines the special use of art works as a store of value in Germany during the Third Reich era. Some Jews were able to buy their freedom, as the fascists closed in. Then as the Third Reich fell, some escaping fascists used art works to secure freedom outside of Germany. One of the characteristics of money is a store of value. When confidence in a currency is present, the more conventional form of money takes precedence. A respected, economic form of currency and coin has all three elements of money: medium of exchange, store of value and unit of account. This last trait is especially absent when using various art works as money, as there is no agreed upon unit of account with such different art. Furthermore, art works could not qualify as a medium of exchange, since only a very small amount of the population was involved in this way of dealing in art during the stressed times for the Third Reich.

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    • Figure 1. Matisse’s “Seated Woman”
    • Figure 2. El Greco’s “Portrait of a Gentlemen” (1600)
    • Figure 3. August Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I”