Polish official withstands da Vinci purchase woes

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s culture minister survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday after he was accused of wasting public money for paying $120 million to a Polish-Spanish aristocrat for an art collection that includes Leonardo da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine.”

In 2016, Piotr Glinski purchased the collection for Poland from Prince Adam Karol Czartoryski, a cousin to Spain’s former King Juan Carlos. It has about 86,000 items including works by Rembrandt and objects of great historical value to the Poles.

Glinski’s critics argued that no transaction was needed because the collection originally had been intended as Poland’s property and had Polish connections dating back to the 18th century. It was started in the 1790s by Princess Izabela Czartoryska as a gift to Poland and has gone through much historical turmoil.

To make matters worse, Glinski’s opponents argued the money that was expected to subsidize Poland’s culture through Czartoryski’s foundation was instead transferred to an account in Luxembourg.

Glinski insisted the artworks were not legally bound to Poland and the purchase — for a sum a fraction of their value — sealed Poland’s ownership of them.

He also implied that the Leonardo painting, which is Poland’s most precious work of art, hadn’t been properly cared for.