The art collective KKKK hacked into the website of a controversial exhibition at the Kunsthaus Zurich in Switzerland, the Swiss Public Radio SRF reported on Tuesday. The collective broke into four QR codes to substitute its own biography of the collector Emil Georg Bührle, around whose holdings the show is centered.
The collective described Buhrle as “a Nazi sympathizer, authoritarian militarist, at the very least a war profiteer and probably a war criminal.”
Before his death in 1956, Bührle was a Swiss industrialist who made a fortune selling arms to Nazi Germany and purchased looted art from the Nazi regime.
The 2021 opening of the Kunsthaus’s extension, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, was overshadowed by controversy regarding the Bührle collection—many works from which are suspected to have been looted from Jews by the Nazis. A total of 170 Impressionist works are showcased on loan from the Bührle Foundation in the building.
The collective demanded the restoration of any works that were stolen from Jews and the sale of all remaining works to benefit Holocaust survivors as well as their descendants and the descendants of laborers enslaved by the Nazis.
Bührle has been connected to the Kunsthaus since 1940, when he joined as a member of the board. He also funded an earlier building extension in 1958.
While the foundation says none of the works on display were connected to Nazi persecution, at least one work in the collection, Claude Monet’s Poppy Field Near Vétheuil (1879), has been contested.
The Kunsthaus’s new director Ann Demeester, who took the helm there this past January, pledged to confront the Bührle legacy. An independent commission to investigate the foundation’s provenance research is also underway by the city and canton of Zurich.
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