He was a butcher and an art collector during Communist rule in Hungary – By day, Istvan Kövesi ran a kosher meat shop in Budapest, but his secret passion was collecting fine works of art.
Between 1960 and 1980 he bought 230 paintings. The collection includes a who’s who of Hungary’s finest 20th century artists and was only recently made public for the first time.
‘‘It is easy to understand the reason why all collectors kept their art secret, because they were bought with money from their private businesses. During the Communist era really only the state-run shops and factories were allowed to collect. The private sector had only limited permission to do this. The richest people were usually taxi drivers, hairdressers, and small food and vegetable shopkeepers, like Istvan Kövesi with his meat shop,” says the collection’s Curator Tamas Kieselbach.
In order to buy such works, often costing more than 80 times his official monthly salary, Kövesi diverted money from his butcher’s business, bypassing Budapest’s official auction houses.
According to experts, that practice of buying and selling paintings outside the system still exists.
Speaking to euronews journalist Gábor Ács, art historian Peter Molnos said:
‘‘Behind us you can see the only place where under Communism you could buy and sell paintings legally. But, collectors could walk next door to the Luxor cafe, exactly the same place where the gallery is located today, and they could make arrangements with private dealers over what they wanted to buy.’‘
But what prompted Kövesi to collect so many fine works?
One theory according to historians is the butcher tried to escape the everyday reality of Communism and his experiences both before and during the second world war through art.
‘‘During the 1930s the so-called ‘Jewish law’ in Hungary meant Jews were restricted in what they could do. Kövesi was also deported to a Nazi death camp, but he survived. When he returned to Hungary his home was abandoned and everybody in his family had been killed in the Holocaust. Later he met a woman, who survived Auschwitz, and they married. After the Second World War Kövesi believed the suffering was over.”
The art collector and butcher died in 1981 but his collection has remained intact to this day.
Copyright © 2014 euronewsMore about:
- 1euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 2Two container ships collide on Egypt’s Suez Canal | euronews, no comment
- 3International tv news | euronews: European and International tv news bulletin
- 4Revealed: Europe’s capital cities where it’s hardest to be a foreigner | euronews, world news
- 5European Union News | euronews: latest breaking news and headlines about European Union
- 6All you need to know about the Ebola virus | euronews, world news
- 7How nasheeds became the soundtrack of jihad | euronews, world news
- 8Where is the best place in Europe for women? | euronews, world news
- 9Sweden becomes first European nation to recognise Palestine | euronews, world news
- 10What to expect in “The World of Ice and Fire,” George R.R. Martin’s new book | euronews, world news
- 11Ebola: Six new suspected cases in Spain | euronews, world news
- 12Learning through “serious games” | euronews, learning world
- 13US says ISIL makes $1 million-a-day selling oil – even to enemies | euronews, world news
- 14International news | euronews, latest international news
- 15International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 16Philippe Starck: ‘Words like longevity and legacy have become almost avant-garde’ | euronews, the global conversation
- 17US delivers technical aid to Ukraine but warns over security | euronews, world news
- 18euronews apps : iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8, Nokia S40, Nokia Asha, Smart TV and Google Glass
- 19Mike Tyson: ‘You learn humbleness when you get older in life’ | euronews, the global conversation
- 20Maritime drama deepens as Sweden extends ‘mystery submarine’ search | euronews, world news