A controversial sketch of Adolf Hitler playing chess with Russian dictator Lenin is expected to fetch up £40,000 at auction.
The astonishing picture of the Nazi dictator pitting his wits against Vladimir Lenin is said to have been drawn by Hitler’s art teacher Emma Lowenstramm in Vienna in 1909.
It is one of just three ever made but is the only one to have been signed by the dictators.
The pencil etching failed to sell last October after historians questioned its authenticity – but new evidence suggesting it is genuine has since come to light.
Forensic evidence proves almost beyond doubt that the signatures on the back of the etching are authentic.
And new details about Lenin’s life in Vienna also proves he lived just three streets away from Hitler in the early 1990s.
The picture, which measures 20in (50cm) by 15in (38cm), is expected to fetch £40,000 when it goes under the hammer at Ludlow Racecourse today (thurs).
A wooden chessboard, said to be the same one the two men played on, is expected to sell for £40,000.
Richard Westwood Brookes, for Mullocks Auctioneers, said: ”Academic debate rages about the veracity of the image, with some suggesting that Lenin could not be the figure in the image as he was bald at the time.
”Others have pointed out that Lenin was known to conceal himself at this time on many occasions.
”Forensic tests showed an 80 per cent propensity that the signatures are genuine which is a very high reading.
”Some historians will always debate its authenticity but the evidence that it is genuine is compelling.”
Historians have argued for decades over the picture but a 300 page dossier of evidence arguing for its authenticity will accompany the picture.
It was compiled by the owner’s late father, Felix Ednhofer, who dedicated his life to proving it was genuine.
Experts believe the pencil markings on the back of the picture have been identified as being the signatures of Hitler and Lenin.
Other historians argue that the figure of Hitler on the left – controlling the white pieces – appears too old in the picture.
Another point of contention is that Lenin appears to have black hair, but in reality he would have been bald at the time of the picture.
However, Lenin often wore disguises because the Russian police were tracking him.
Mr Ednhofer, who died in the 1990s, spent thousands of pounds compiling his dossier.
In it he claims Miss Lowenstramm sketched the two men in her house, which was a gathering place for ”free political thinkers”.
He also tracked down the grave of Miss Lowenstramm, who died in 1941, and discovered Lenin lived just three streets away from Hitler in the early 1990s.
Mr Brookes said: ”There is masses of evidence which proves the authenticity of this picture.
”Vienna at that time was the principle city in the world and the cross words between East and West.
”Art was the reason Hitler was drawn to the city as were political thinkers from all over the world.
”Lenin was working as a German agent at the time and it would have been no surprise that he mixed in the same social circles as Hitler.”
The etching and the chessboard will be auctioned at Ludlow Racecourse