Two works by Warhol have disappeared from the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce, Slovakia, after being loaned to Arts Group, for “educational purposes.” They are a Campbell’s Soup can painting (this must be a print too, because all of the soup can paintings are at MoMA,) and a Marilyn print. They’ve been missing since March, but the museum has just made the incident public. Slovak police estimate that the artworks could fetch up to six figures in the market. (This makes no sense to me, as any Warhol painting is worth 7 figures plus…) Anyway, according to museum officials the institution had arranged similar loan agreements with the same company in the past. But after the firm had failed to return the artworks, the museum began to suspect that pieces may have been stolen. Michal Bycko, deputy manager of the museum said;
“The artworks which were loaned were collected by a security company with guns. They had all the relevant documents so there was no reason not to hand them over.”
Then it gets complicated. The Slovak Spectator (not making it up) reports that the missing works could have become ransom in a dispute between Martin Švajda, from Arts Group, and Herbert Gorge, an Israeli businessman. Gorge allegedly lent over $600,000 to Švajda to buy works from various artists, including Warhol. Some of these works were supposedly fakes and, as a result, Švajda got into debt.
Slovakian government officials said the loan agreement was not signed between the museum and Arts Group, but between the museum and an individual. Meanwhile, Valika Maďarová, the museum’s director, has been suspended on suspicion of being involved in the plot. Maďarová is NOT cooperating with investigators, making it difficult for police to assess the relevant evidence. Police also say that the Bratislava address in the loan agreement is deserted. The museum is only ten miles away from the birthplace of Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola and contains over 160 works, memorabilia and artifacts. However this museum ended up in Slovakia, it is the second largest museum dedicated to Andy, outside The Warhol in Pittsburgh.