Regarding the media articles regarding the court proceedings before the competent authorities regarding the painting "Guard” by Paja Jovanović, the Museum of the City of Belgrade informs the public that City Secretary Nikola Kovačević did not buy the painting in agreement with the Museum of the City of Belgrade and the City of Belgrade.
We were not in communication with Kovačević regarding the purchase of Paja Jovanović’s painting "The Guard”.
The Museum of the City of Belgrade monitors auctions around the world so that we know if they offer works of art that represent our national treasure. Upon learning that this painting is being offered for sale in Vienna, we contacted the management of the city of Belgrade, who asked an Austrian company operating in Belgrade to participate in the auction, try to buy the painting and donate it to the City Museum. The money that the company was ready to offer for the painting Guard of Paje Jovanović was not enough to buy this painting.
Now that we know that the painting was bought by Mr. Kovacevic does not mean that he cannot donate the painting or lend it to the Museum, which is provided by the Law on Culture.
Every private person can buy a painting from his own account or the account of his relatives, or he can get the painting by inheritance, exchange, gift and after that he can put the work of art in the Museum of the City of Belgrade under his care.
With certain documentation, the museum received proof that the painting is in the legal ownership of the donor, and only after that can it make a gift contract with the potential donor. The Museum Commission proposes the receipt of gifts and decides on this after assessing the appropriateness of the gift on several parameters.
The Museum of the City of Belgrade is the most beautiful example of legatory practice in our country, and requests for gifts are the most regular practice in our institution.
Paja Jovanović himself donated his legacy to our institution, and he agreed for his life to take over his urn with ashes after his death. We follow the auction houses and the sale of works that are important for our Museum, and of course we hope for the opportunity to get to the works to fill our collections. As we cannot know when and what will be offered somewhere about every offer for works of art for which we, as the City Museum, are interested, we inform our founder, the city of Belgrade. Thus, the funds from the collection of Jugoexport, which are now part of the collection of the City Museum, were purchased with the funds of the city of Belgrade. We hoped that in a similar way, Paja Jovanović’s "Guard” would become the property of the Museum of the City of Belgrade. We did not succeed in that, but the painting was found in Belgrade by a strange combination of circumstances, so here is an opportunity to find it in the Museum of the City of Belgrade.