The Slomovic Treasure

August 10, 1996 Vreme News Digest Agency No 253

The Slomovic Treasure

Sources in the national museum said the Slomovic case will be ended soon Belgrade’s first district court recently ruled that Erih Slomovic’s legacy was his collection of 359 art works which have been in the national museum for almost 50 years. That means the greatest treasure of the museum’s foreign collection does not belong to the state but to Slomovic’s heirs - Anat Piamante and Yaron Bloch in Israel. The Serbian attorney general appealed the ruling on July 19. "I haven’t seen it yet because the court council chairman is on vacation," lawyer for the heirs Aleksandar Lojpur said. Unofficially, the case was on the court president’s desk because he wanted to complete the case while the chairman was away.

The collection of Picassos, Renoirs, Gaugins, Degas and other important painters were turned over to the museum in 1949 until a ruling was reached in court. Twenty years later, the court ruled that the Slomovic collection was abandoned during W.W.II and handed it to the state. This year’s ruling proves that the Slomovic family never gave the collection up.

"Morally, the ruling is questionable," museum historic art department chief Nikola Kusovac said. He added that the prime minister should talk to the court president. He said museum director Jevtovic drew attention to the problem on time. Kusovac claims Ruza Slomovic gave the state her son’s collection. "They want to break up the collection and that is not what Slomovic’s mother wanted. I think their only motive is money and never once asked if the museum was taking good care of their family treasures." Kusovac said he expects the people to understand that the collection is not state property but national. He added that art prices are dropping and that apart from a few pieces the rest of the collection is not worth big money.

The Slomovic collection is more valuable in terms of the names of the authors than the pieces themselves. "There aren’t many oils. Most of it are studio materials, very valuable naturally. What we showed at a joint exhibition with the Zagreb museum-gallery center are the 100 or so main pieces. We keep just 40 pieces on permanent exhibit," Kusovac said.

The case will end quickly, Kusovac predicted. Those times are over, Lojpur responded.

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