German state buys broken-up bank's art collection

BERLIN – The government of Germany’s most populous state is paying nearly 30 million euros ($33.4 million) to acquire art works and other treasures collected by a bank that fell victim to the financial crisis.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s government said Monday it is buying 297 items that include a Stradivarius violin and works by artists including Joseph Beuys and Gerhard Richter. It said that the aim is to ensure continued public access to the works.

The state is acquiring the art from Portigon AG, a legal successor to WestLB bank, which was broken up following the financial crisis. Portigon last year announced plans to sell the collection.

In 2014, a state-owned casino operator sold two Andy Warhol pieces that were once owned by WestLB at an auction, drawing criticism.