Skip to Content

How much did hitler’s art sell for?

Adolf Hitler is undoubtedly one of the most infamous figures in modern history. Before rising to power as the dictator of Nazi Germany, Hitler was an aspiring artist living in Vienna in the early 1900s. While his political career and legacy of violence have overshadowed this period of his life, there has long been interest around the artworks Hitler created as a young man trying to make his way as a painter in Austria.

Hitler’s Early Artistic Ambitions

Hitler moved to Vienna in 1907 at age 18, hoping to become an artist and be admitted to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. He took the entrance exam in 1907 and 1908, but was rejected both times. The examiners cited “unfitness for painting” as a reason for not admitting him.

Rather than giving up on his dreams of becoming an artist, Hitler continued painting and drawing while living in Vienna and making money by selling postcards of city scenes that he copied. He also expanded his knowledge by visiting museums and opera houses in the city.

The most common subjects of Hitler’s paintings during this period were Vienna cityscapes featuring landmarks like the opera house. He also painted some pastoral scenes of the Austrian countryside. His painting style showed the influence of 19th century realism.

In addition to selling postcards, Hitler lived off the orphan’s pension he received after his mother’s death and support from his aunt. He lived in hostels, shelters, and sometimes was homeless during his years struggling to make it as an artist in Vienna.

Hitler’s Artwork from Vienna

Approximately 300 paintings and drawings created by Hitler during his Vienna years from 1907-1913 are known to have survived. Here are some examples of his early artwork:

  • The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich (1910) – This detailed cityscape depicts a large courtyard with Bavarian architecture.
  • Portrait of a Young Girl (1910) – One of Hitler’s few portraits, showing a teenage girl with braided hair.
  • Niederdorf in Neulengbach (1911) – Scenic landscape painting of a village near Vienna.
  • View of the Vienna Hofburg (1912) – Realistic painting of the imperial palace, a frequent subject for Hitler.
  • Herrenhaus Morzinplatz in Vienna (1912) – Architectural view of an upscale Vienna square.

Stylistically, his Vienna period paintings are fairly accomplished examples of realism focusing on architectural scenes rendered in oil or watercolors. While Hitler’s technical skill was evident, the works generally lack strong composition or deeper meaning. He was ultimately more interested in selling his paintings than pushing creative boundaries.

Hitler’s Artwork after Leaving Vienna

In 1913 at age 24, Hitler relocated to Munich in southern Germany. He continued painting and drafting during his time there, though most of his focus went to political activies like giving public speeches for the Nazi party which he joined in 1919.

Hitler’s artwork from the Munich period included:

  • Industrial Manchester (1914) – Rare cityscape of Manchester, England done from postcard during WWI.
  • Plowing at Ammersee (1924) – Idyllic rural landscape painting.
  • Old Town in Nuremberg (1935) – Architectural sketch done for a calendar.

In the 1920s, Hitler also did a few commissioned oil portraits of family members. His skill seemed to stagnate during these years when art took a backseat to his political career.

Public Exhibitions of Hitler’s Art

Despite his rejections from Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, Hitler’s artwork was displayed in public exhibitions both during his lifetime and after his death:

  • 1907 – Four of Hitler’s paintings were shown at an exhibition by the Vienna Terra Society.
  • 1912 – Hitler’s watercolors were accepted into a show at Galerie Pisko in Vienna.
  • 1937 – During the Nazi regime, Hitler’s paintings were exhibited in the “Great German Art Exhibition” in Munich.
  • 2015 – Several of Hitler’s paintings and drawings were displayed at an auction preview in Nuremberg and Berlin before going up for sale.
  • 2017 – The German Historical Museum exhibited a selection of Hitler’s art in Berlin as part of a special exhibition titled “Hitler’s Art: Divided Memories.”

These exhibitions gave many members of the German public a rare glimpse into Hitler’s early artistic career. His works have generated significant interest partly due to his infamy, despite limited artistic merit.

Current Market for Hitler’s Art

Because of their association with Hitler, his drawings and paintings have fetched high prices at auction over the years. However, the high valuations are controversial given that most experts consider them artistically unremarkable.

Additionally, because Hitler did not date the majority of his works, it can be difficult to verify authenticity. Here are some notable sales of artworks attributed to Adolf Hitler:

  • 1964 – A buyer purchased four watercolors attributed to Hitler for $20,000 total at an auction in England.
  • 2009 – A Hitler watercolor sold at auction for £11,000 (around $16,000).
  • 2014 – An anonymous buyer acquired a painting signed “A. Hitler” for €45,000 (around $61,000).
  • 2015 – An auction house sold a batch of 14 Hitler drawings and watercolors for nearly £280,000 (over $400,000).
  • 2017 – A Hitler watercolor fetched £34,000 (around $45,000) at auction in England.

These sales figures show that there is still significant market interest in Hitler’s artworks, with some buyers presumably acquiring them for historical significance or novelty value.

Legal Restrictions

Because of the inherent controversy surrounding Hitler’s artwork, there are laws in some European countries restricting sale and display of his pieces. According to German law, public exhibition of objects associated with the Nazi regime is prohibited:

In accordance with this principle, the exhibition of artworks created by Hitler after 1933 is prohibited in Germany.

France also has laws against exhibition of Hitler’s works, as well as public display of Nazi symbols or insignia. While not outright illegal, auction houses and dealers still tread carefully when it comes to selling Hitler items because of potential backlash or ethical concerns.

Value for Museums and Collectors

Despite the complex ethical issues surrounding Hitler’s art, his works do offer historical value for certain institutions and private collectors. Pieces like his Vienna cityscape paintings provide insight into Hitler’s formative years and artistic ambitions prior to rising to power.

For World War II archives and museums, Hitler’s artwork and possession can be important historical documents even if they are not outstanding artistically. Reputable organizations that exhibit his works for clear educational purposes avoid some of the controversy associated with those who seek the paintings primarily for profit.

Among collectors, Hitler’s art seems to appeal to a niche group of WWII history enthusiasts willing to pay prices well above what the amateur pieces would normally command. For these buyers, authenticity and Hitler’s infamy drive the value more than artistic significance.

Critical Reception

While Hitler considered himself an artist, his skills fell far short of professional standards according to most critics and experts who have reviewed his surviving works.

Walter Hansen was one art professor who provided the following scathing critique of a batch of Hitler’s paintings up for auction in 2015:

“Far too many of the watercolors cannot be attributed with absolute certainty to Hitler due to lack of signature, monogram or date. And the quality is predominantly poor. The landscapes evidence an uncreative conventionality, the still lifes are at best craftsman-like, the portraits are bad copies and duplications, and the architectonic representations are void of any creative effort.”

This assessment captures the critical consensus – that Hitler’s strengths were his architectural precision and technical rendering ability, but his overall paintings and drawings lacked enough vision or innovation to be considered high art.

While Hitler’s artistic abilities may not have warranted acceptance to Vienna’s elite Academy of Fine Arts, he showed enough skill in his watercolors and paintings to sell them locally and exhibit publicly on occasion. For those drawn to Hitler’s infamy more than his talent, the paintings hold an undeniable fascination and value despite unremarkable quality.


Adolf Hitler’s artworks provide a window into his early creative ambitions before rising to power as Nazi dictator. While debate continues around profiting from Hitler’s infamy through art sales, his drawings and paintings will likely continue attracting interest from collectors and historians. However, based on artistic merit alone, it’s clear why Vienna’s Academy rejected young Hitler twice, saving the world from the lost artwork of a genocidal tyrant.