Agustí Centelles was a photographer who took 10000 pictures in Barcelona during the Civil War, he died in 1985. In 1939 he fled to France and took 6000 of those negatives with him. The Spanish Fascist army seized the remaining pictures and took them to Salamanca to remain part of the Salamanca Papers, the documents stolen to the Catalan Generalitat to be used as part of the post war repression that were recently returned to their original owners after much controversy in Spain. Agustí kept those negatives hidden in France for 40 years until after Franco‘s death.
This week it’s been made public that the Spanish Ministry of Culture has paid Centelles’ sons 700000 euros for his father’s collection. It has also been made public that the Catalan Generalitat was also under negotiations and had so far offered 500000 euros but the Spanish Ministry of Culture has outbid the Generalitat without previously notifying them. The Minister of Culture, González Sinde, has announced the negatives will be moved to Salamanca. This can only be interpreted as a sinister “compensation” to the city for the “loss” of the stolen Papers.
The Centelles negatives are part of Catalonia’s cultural legacy and the money the Spanish government has used to pay for them comes from Catalonia. There is no reason for those pictures not to stay where they belong and Centelles himself would have rather burnt them than see them in the hands of the Spanish.
Yet another example that for non tax collection matters the Spanish know Catalonia is not Spain.