The following article gives an idea of some of the unique initiatives the national carrier of Yugoslavia had. The special concept the following article talks about took place in 1979.
First paintings auction over the Atlantic
The history of Yugoslav Airlines has recorded scores of flights whose importance, scope and public interest surpassed national boundaries. The auction of artworks onboard JAT aircraft at an altitude of 33.000 feet may be singled out in terms of originality and exclusivity.
Less than two months after the first modern DC10 joined the JAT fleet, on February 16, 1979 a unique and historic event in global civil aviation took place at 33.000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. JAT announced the first auction of paintings ever to take place aboard an aircraft. The first flight to enjoy such an honour was JU500 from Belgrade to New York. Therefore, collectors and art enthusiasts were in a position to bid during the course of the flight and buy renowned artworks. A tag indicating that the painting had been purchased in the first “Gallery over the Atlantic” was placed at the back of each artwork. As a special token, each painting was inscribed with the altitude at which it was purchased.
The idea was met with remarkable public interest both in Yugoslavia and abroad. This was a good signal to the management that many of these auctions should be organised in the future. Thus, JAT organised a total of 11 auctions of paintings from 1979 to 1989. All of the auctions were held on flights to New York, except for the last one which took place on a flight to Los Angeles. The special significance of these auctions was that the net proceeds from the sale all went to charity organisations. Only the artworks by renowned, academic, local Yugoslav painters were entered in the auction. More than 300 paintings by over 150 artists were entered for the eleven auctions held once annually (with the exception of 1989 when two auctions were held). Some of the artists which entered their paintings for the auction were Milan Konjović, Peđa Milosavljevič, Vladimir Veličković, Olja Ivanjicki, Mersad Berber, Dušan Džamonja, Mića Popović, Ljuba Popović, Ivo Vojvodić, Nikola Rajzer, Jože Cijuha, Jože Tisnikar, Ivan Rabuzin, Vangel Naumovski and many others.
Passengers on these flights, who were mostly travelling as part of the JAT Air Lift package tours, included many domestic and international art lovers as well as numerous collectors and gallery owners from Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Great Britain and other countries.
All of the paintings found in the “Gallery over the Atlantic” had previously been displayed in galleries in Zagreb, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Ljubljana and Sarajevo. Upon arriving in New York and Los Angeles the paintings were put on display in galleries in both cities.
Next week: First JAT DC10 arrives