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August 10, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 253

The Slomovic Treasure

Sources in the national museum said the Slomovic case will be ended soon

Belgrade’s first district court recently ruled that Erih Slomovic’s legacy was his collection of 359 art works which have been in the national museum for almost 50 years. That means the greatest treasure of the museum’s foreign collection does not belong to the state but to Slomovic’s heirs - Anat Piamante and Yaron Bloch in Israel. The Serbian attorney general appealed the ruling on July 19. "I haven’t seen it yet because the court council chairman is on vacation," lawyer for the heirs Aleksandar Lojpur said. Unofficially, the case was on the court president’s desk because he wanted to complete the case while the chairman was away.

The collection of Picassos, Renoirs, Gaugins, Degas and other important painters were turned over to the museum in 1949 until a ruling was reached in court. Twenty years later, the court ruled that the Slomovic collection was abandoned during W.W.II and handed it to the state. This year’s ruling proves that the Slomovic family never gave the collection up.

"Morally, the ruling is questionable," museum historic art department chief Nikola Kusovac said. He added that the prime minister should talk to the court president. He said museum director Jevtovic drew attention to the problem on time. Kusovac claims Ruza Slomovic gave the state her son’s collection. "They want to break up the collection and that is not what Slomovic’s mother wanted. I think their only motive is money and never once asked if the museum was taking good care of their family treasures."

Kusovac said he expects the people to understand that the collection is not state property but national. He added that art prices are dropping and that apart from a few pieces the rest of the collection is not worth big money.

The Slomovic collection is more valuable in terms of the names of the authors than the pieces themselves. "There aren’t many oils. Most of it are studio materials, very valuable naturally. What we showed at a joint exhibition with the Zagreb museum-gallery center are the 100 or so main pieces. We keep just 40 pieces on permanent exhibit," Kusovac said.

The case will end quickly, Kusovac predicted. Those times are over, Lojpur responded.

Debate Over Heart Surgery

When the public splits on which folk singer is better or which one has better legs, it’s a question of taste. But if the media open a debate on heart surgery (is one hospital better than another) the whole thing is more serious. Especially if money, reputations and politics are behind it all.

In July 1995, the state media brought out their heavy artillery. The Dedinje institute for cardiovascular diseases transplanted a heart and a liver. Both organs were taken from a young man who died in a car accident. Both patients felt well after surgery and praised the Dedinje doctors and their director Milovan Bojic.

No one listened to shy warnings that the transplant problem is sensitive and should exact a cautious approach and unofficial comments that Bojic was in the media all the time because he is close to the authorities were dismissed as ill intentioned.

We don't know whether Dedinje doctors were encouraged by the fact that Bojic was no longer an SPS main board member after the March congress but this June an anonymous letter reached the media and competent institutions. The accusations against Bojic were heavy: embezzlement, privatization of the institute and deals with apartments.

At the same time, the state media reported that the Sremska Kamenica institute broke foreign currency regulations during the sanctions. Sources in Kamenica said the foreign currency came from foreign patients and was used to import literature, medical equipment and spare parts. All that reached Serbia only thanks to the reputation of cardiovascular department chief Dr. Ninoslav Radovanovic. The sources said they did the deals without National bank approval but added that their were receipts for everything and that three million DEM were saved in expenses, that many lives were saved and that the institute deserves praise.

Radovanovic told the media that he had turned to the Serbian government three times. He said the mortality rate in Kamenica in 1994 was five times lower than in Dedinje.

Vojvodina health secretary Zivorad Smiljanic told VREME doctors were attacking each other in the press instead of getting on with their job. He added that it’s impossible to reach a conclusion based on media reports and that the republican health ministry hadn’t discussed the problem but probably will soon.

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