• Sweden's news in English

Sweden surrenders unique Ottoman art

Ann Törnkvist · 1 Nov 2013, 07:18

Published: 01 Nov 2013 07:18 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
The collection was pieced together by two brothers, sent to what was then Constantinople to represent Sweden. It includes portraits from the Ottoman court but also of landscapes, and was kept by the Celsing family in latter years at Biby Manour near Eskilstuna, in central Sweden. 
"The collection is unique because it has been kept intact and because these paintings were produced for Westerners, when tradition in what is now Istanbul and some interpretations of Islam forbid the depiction of living things," Swedish art historian Anders Bengtsson at the National Museum (Nationalmuseet) in Stockholm told The Local. 
Bengtsson said estimates of the collection's value varied, but the probate valued the artwork to 100 million kronor ($15 million) in total.
The National Museum and the National Heritage Board (Riksantikvariatämbetet) both protested, however, that the collection had unique cultural value and should not be allowed to leave Sweden. "The National Museum looks at many applications to take art out of the country every year, and generally we allow it," Bengtsson said. "But those artifacts that we say no to are in general foreign artworks that have been in Sweden a long time and become a part of Sweden's cultural heritage."
On October 25th, however, Sweden's Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) stated it would not consider the museum's appeal against a lower court's ruling that allowed the Celsing heir to ship the paintings out of the country. 
"We've run out of appeals," Bengtsson said, citing his fear that the collection be auctioned off canvas by canvas. The heir's lawyer in Sweden did not respond to an interview request by The Local. 
In the past, the Swedish fideikommis law helped keep a number of significant art collections intact, Bengtsson explained. It allowed certain families to circumnavigate inheritance law - allowing land and possessions to stay with one principal heir rather than be splintered among siblings as normal inheritance law dictates. 
Since fideikommis was amended, an appointed heir can only take charge of half of the inheritance. The current heir to the Ottoman art collection, however, has issued what in layman's terms would be IOUs to his siblings and by so doing wields control over the collection's fate.
He has signaled his intention to sell the art with the help of auction house Sotheby's in London. 
Story continues below…
While the National Museum would have considered allowing the collection to leave the country for a foreign public institution, splitting up the collection was problematic, Bengtsson maintained.
"With Sotheby's we have no control over where the art goes, but with a public institution we would know that the collection was still available to the public and to researchers," Bengtsson told The Local. "In principle, they can now do what the want with it." 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedish PM visits Iraq for talks on Isis
Stefan Löfven (left) and Haider al-Abadi (right). Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Stefan Löfven will discuss the offensive on Mosul with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission- free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available