Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2003 / 12 Tishrei, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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Art-time for Hitler; the actress who hates movies; lying "Liam" | NEW YORK Now that Adolf Hitler is back in the news — concerning what a the new California governor may or may not have said about him — a New Hampshire auction house is accepting bids on two postcard-sized watercolors purportedly painted by the budding mass murderer.

In 1907, the future Fuhrer was an 18-year-old starving artist in Vienna, keeping body and soul together by selling his handiwork on the streets — in this case, a depiction of a wooded field and a seated panther.

The paintings are being offered — for a minimum bid of $7,500 — along with two glossy photos of Hitler and a commemorative plaque. They're accompanied by a letter of provenance from Army Maj. Charles Snyder, who brought them home as the spoils of war in 1945.

"We have absolute confidence that these are authentic," R&R Auction House owner Bob Eaton said yesterday from Bedford, N.H. "We've handled lots of Hitler pieces. We sell a variety of items, in the entertainment category, history, military, notables and notorious — Charles Manson, Mother Teresa."

It's all perfectly legal, both in the U.S. and Germany. "What would be illegal would be flags, pamphlets, badges and also certain catchwords used by the Nazis, also certain greetings such as raising the right hand," explained German embassy spokesman Oliver Schramm. "But he painted as a person before he became what he became. These paintings don't have any political message, they don't transmit any Nazi content, or incite any violence."

But Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League that monitors neo-Nazi activity, isn't so sure. "It's not about art," he told me. "It's about notoriety and the fascination with a man of evil."

Foxman added: "The people who buy this stuff have this weird fascination with the macabre, and there are those who think they'll make a killing with it, and still others who believe in Hitler's ideology. I would hope there are enough good people who will pass it by and not bid for it."

So far, auctioneer Eaton said, no bids have been received.


Joanne Woodward hates making movies.

"Film work is not really about the actor, not anymore," the 73-year-old actress complained yesterday. "Everything is about time and money. It's all about the one thing, one person. I'm doing a small part in a film right now, 'Empire Falls,' and it's been so long since I was on a movie set. It's scary. I'm not enjoying it at all! I like working on stage. It's more fun."

Which is probably why Paul Newman's wife of 45 years is headlining a glittery fundraising dinner in Greenwich, Conn., tomorrow night for the Westport Country Playhouse, where Woodward happens to be artistic director.

Her 78-year-old husband, who "enjoys making films more than I do," is hoping to be an auctioneer, his work schedule permitting, in the campaign to raise $30.5 million to renovate the 73-year-old theater. And "Will & Grace" co-star Sean Hayes is flying in from L.A. to join Robin Williams and Carole King, Miramax czar Harvey Weinstein and actress Olivia de Havilland in the dinner organized by NBC Chairman Bob Wright and his wife Suzanne.

"There will probably be the obligatory speech or two," Woodward says. "I won't be speaking, I avoid that like the plague."


CALIFORNIA'S NEXT FIRST LADY: I caught up with Maria Shriver Tuesday as she was having lunch with her parents and siblings at Ivy on the Shore in Santa Monica. She sounded remarkably chipper considering that this has been a week in which her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has weathered accusations of groping women and admiring Adolf Hitler. "It's been an extraordinary couple of months — from 'Terminator 3' to the governor's race — it's been a wild ride," the NBC News correspondent said as her parents — Sargent and Eunice — and brothers — Bobby, Tim, Mark and Anthony — could be heard cracking jokes and chowing down. "I'm just glad things are back to normal today — a carpool in the morning, lunch with my family, a carpool in the evening, and dinner with my family — what could be better than that? I feel very blessed."

LYING "LIAM": It looks like those savvy folks at PM, the trendy nightclub in the Meatpacking District, were completely snookered by a Liam Neeson impersonator who showed up after midnight Saturday and wangled a $200 bottle of Jack Daniels for himself and a pal. "Liam Neeson has never heard of the club 'PM' and certainly was not there on Sunday evening last," the actor's personal assistant, Matt Coleman, e-mailed me yesterday. "Perhaps it was Mr. Unik" — a PM co-owner — "who was drinking the Jack Daniels in the wee Sunday hours!" Neeson's publicist, Alan Nierob, said his client was attending a wedding in upstate New York. And PM co-owner Adam Hock told me: "He sure looked like Liam Neeson, but he had very short hair, and he introduced himself around as Liam Neeson. It could have been worse. It was just a bottle of Jack."

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© 2003, Creators Syndicate