Hungary: Red relics for red sludge

2010-11-22 21:53

Budapest - Hungary will auction off 230 communist-era relics, including a life-size bust of former Soviet dictator Vladimir Lenin, to benefit the victims of last month's red sludge flood.

The objects, which also include paintings in the Socialist realism style and photographs of Hungary's communist-era leaders, were found in state warehouses and ministries "where they have been gathering dust for the past 20 years," Bence Retvari, Hungary's state secretary, said on Monday.

"The state does not want to look after these communist relics any more," he added.

The auction will be held December 6 at the Pinter Gallery in the capital, Budapest. The revenue will go to Caritas, a Catholic charity, to help residents in several western towns left devastated by an October 4 flood of toxic red sludge from a plant reservoir.

Ten people died in the deluge and dozens were injured.

Gallery owner Peter Pinter said he hoped the most valuable objects would go to a single bidder so "they could then be donated to a museum or public collection for exhibit".

The auction pieces include a large, framed photo of Matyas Rakosi, the ruler who led a Stalinist-type regime between 1945 and 1956.

Artwork with communist themes has met with varying fates across Hungary after the end of the communist regime in 1990.

Many large statues - of Soviet-era leaders and soldiers, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and factory workers - were moved to Memento Park, an outdoor museum in Budapest.

A huge painting by Aurel Bernath called The Workers' State can be seen again in the lobby of a prominent political building in the capital after being hidden from public view from 1990-2004.