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Paintings attributed to Hitler fetch $60,000

NUREMBERG, Germany (Reuters) - Three watercolours believed painted by a young Adolf Hitler were auctioned off for a total of 42,000 euros ($60,000) in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg on Saturday.

German auctioneer Herbert Weidler said the three paintings were sold to three different phone bidders. Although the exact number of Hitler paintings is unknown, experts believe there are about 720, including sketches, in existence.

"Various clients are interested in these paintings," Weidler said. "They're intellectuals, businessmen or just normal people who might have saved some money and wanted such a painting."

The paintings are dated from 1910 to 1911 and originate in Vienna, where Hitler was a struggling artist. He applied to art school in Vienna but was rejected.

There have been a number of other auctions in Germany and abroad for Hitler paintings in the past. The three watercolours auctioned on Saturday including depictions of cottages, mills and churches nestled in rural landscapes.

"Weissenkirchen in der Wachau" fetched 24,000 euros from a foreign bidder while two other domestic bidders won "Zerschossene Muehle" for 11,000 euros and "Haus mit Bruecke am Fluss" for 7,000 euros.

"I would say it's the quality of a village school art teacher who has learned how to draw," Weidler said. "Others might think differently but we say they're of rather modest quality."

The authenticity of items associated with Hitler has long been a bone of contention. In 1983, German magazine Stern published what it said were extracts from Hitler's diaries. They were later exposed as forgeries.

(Reporting by Juliane Keck; writing by Erik Kirschbaum)

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