Liechtenstein Halts Art Loans to Germany After Tax Scandal | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 12.03.2008
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Liechtenstein Halts Art Loans to Germany After Tax Scandal

Liechtenstein's leaders were livid when German officials paid millions to get their hands on stolen data about tax evaders in the tiny Alpine country. Now the royals are using their art collection to take revenge.

Liechtenstein's Prince Adam II stands in front of paintings on display at the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna

Liechtenstein's Prince Adam II will keep art at home and in a museum in Vienna for now

If Germany will work with stolen bank secrets, we're not so sure our art is safe there. That's what members of Liechtenstein's royal household must have been thinking when they decided to cancel a planned exhibition in Munich.

"The Princely Collections will abstain from making loans available to Germany as long as the application of fundamental principles of the rule of law by the Federal Republic seems questionable as far as Liechtenstein is concerned," reads a statement from the prince's office. All other art loans have also been put on hold for the time being.

Tit for tax scandal

A view of Liechtenstein castle

Liechtenstein officials feel the data theft violated their sovereignty

The move comes after a massive scandal involving rich Germans who have set up foundations in Liechtenstein to avoid paying taxes at home. German officials apparently paid more than four million euros ($6.14 million) for data on the tax culprits that had been stolen from a Liechtenstein bank.

The subsequent investigation has led to the downfall of one of Germany's most prominent business leaders, Klaus Zumwinkel, who resigned from his position as CEO of Deutsche Post.

Some 600 other Germans also appear on the list of tax evaders, and many more countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia, have begun checking the data for the names of their own citizens.

Bye-bye, Biedermeier

At Munich's Neue Pinakothek museum, where some 60 paintings and 120 drawings from Liechtenstein had been scheduled to go on display in an exhibition of Viennese Biedermeier art on May 25, curator Herbert Rott was clearly disappointed by Liechtenstein's loan boycott.

"Needless to say it's bitter that we've been hit like that," he said, according to AP news service. Rott added that he hoped the show could be restaged at a later date.

According to information on the official Web site of Liechtenstein's art collections, the princely treasures include major European works of art spanning five centuries.

"They are among the world's most important private collections of art today," according to a statement on the Web site.

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