Berlin Wall fragments sell in West Sussex auction

This fragment of the Berlin Wall measures 15ft (3.6m) high and is painted with graffiti by German artist Ben Wagin. It was previously part of his Parliament of Trees memorial and sold at Summers Place Auction’s March 12 sale for £12,000.

Two fragments of the Berlin Wall once used in a memorial to those killed in escape attempts sold for a combined hammer total of £17,000 at an auction in West Sussex last week.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Frances Allitt

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Offered at Summers Place Auctions’ March 12 sale, the two pieces of wall both bore graffiti by German artist Ben Wagin. They were originally part of his Parliament of Trees memorial, which commemorated the hundreds killed while trying to escape East Germany.

It was set up in 1990, a year after the wall came down and comprised trees and flowers as well as sections of the wall. Initial visitors had chipped graffiti off the wall, and Wagin repainted the segments with new messages.

The consigner acquired the fragments when the memorial was modified to allow additional space for civic buildings when the German government moved from Bonn to Berlin.

The first section offered at Summers Place included four wall fragments with the words PARLAMENT DER BAUME/DENK-STATTE/SICH ZU VEREINEN/HEISST TEILEN LERNEN (Parliament of Trees, To Unite Means to Learn to Share). It stood around 15ft (3.6m) tall, weighed around 15 tonnes and sold for £12,000 to an online bidder in the US.

The other section, which made a hammer price of £7000, was painted with the words ERDE/WERDE/ERDE (Earth to Earth). It included two segments of the wall and was knocked down to a UK buyer.

From 1961-89, around 5000 people successfully crossed the wall. The number who died in escape attempts is disputed but the number is thought to be more than 140. This year marks the 30th year since its fall.