TITA IN DENIAL(10/05/2007)
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On the evil lurking behind the fortune that paid for the Thyssen-Bornemisza art collection.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE FIFTY-FIVE
I have been watching the neuronically-challenged status junky that goes by the name of Carmen 'Tita' Cervera for years. We all have. Ever since she crawled out of her B-movie acting career into the European aristocracy, via her 1982 marriage to the art-loving Baron Hans-Heinrich 'Heini' Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Spanish media set about converting Tita into the National Institution she now is, and with a heavily capitalised N: when she allowed just 75 of her and Heini's 1,300 paintings to be permanently exhibited in Barcelona, she stipulated that they would be whisked back to Madrid if Catalonia became independent (prompting some Catalans to remark that it was surely no coincidence that 'tita' means 'prick' in their language).
Well, the whistle on the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection has just been blown, with the recent revelation that Heini's inherited fortune was made on the backs of 10,000 slave labourers provided by the Nazis, whose favours his family fervently curried: in 1945, for example, Heini's sister Margit hosted a party for the SS at the family castle, at which her guests were invited to hunt down 200 half-starved Jewish prisoners.
Even the 'donation' of Tita and Heini's partially-looted collection to Spain turns out to have been a fraud: we taxpayers chipped in 600 million dollars for what is, in effect, little more than a long-term loan.
Tita has recently been back in the the Spanish press. To apologise for her late husband's ghastly past? No, to trumpet the fact that she has saved the trees that line Madrid's Paseo del Prado from being cut down. Tears welled up in her eyes as she announced this victory, blinding her, presumably, to the ghosts of 200 murdered Jews scuttling from trunk to trunk, still trying to dodge the bullets of her sister-in-law's Nazi friends.