Iceland Reclaims Landsbanki’s Collection of Paintings Skip to content

Iceland Reclaims Landsbanki’s Collection of Paintings

When Landsbanki Bank was nationalized this week the Icelandic nation reclaimed a valuable collection of paintings, around 1,300 pieces which were sold along with the bank when it was privatized in 2002.

Ásgeir Fridgeirsson, spokesperson for chairman of Landsbanki Björgólfur Gudmundsson, told Morgunbladid that the collection is located in the same place in the bank and is now in the hands of the committee established by the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority (FME), which has taken control of the bank.

“The collection of paintings is in the ownership of the bank and not a private collection. It has never been capitalized because it is considered very difficult to estimate its value,” Fridgeirsson said.

Art historian Adalsteinn Ingólfsson, who for the past years has served as an artistic consultant for Landsbanki Bank, said the collection of paintings now numbers 1,700 pieces. Since the bank was privatized, paintings by renowned artists have regularly been added to the collection.

According to Ingólfsson, there are many superb paintings in the collection, some of which can be considered among the greatest treasures in Iceland’s history of visual art. In that regard, the collection is priceless.

However, other artworks that are among the bank’s earlier acquisitions are not especially noteworthy, Ingólfsson said. Landsbanki did not follow a special policy on acquiring art back then and some of the paintings were bought as a favor or accepted as payment of debts.

The collection includes artwork by all the main pioneers of painting in Iceland, such as 60 pieces by Jóhannes S. Kjarval. In the head office of Landsbanki at Austurstraeti 11 in Reykjavík some unique pieces of art adorn the walls, Ingólfsson said, by Kjarval, Jón Stefánsson and Nína Tryggvadóttir.

Click here to read about the nationalization of Landsbanki Bank.

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