Sketches of Johannes Blatt discovered during Bonusmarkt renovations

The old Bonusmarkt building in Swakopmund, which was first completed as a double story building in 1913/1914, has revealed a spectacular new treasure. After the renovations for the new “Bonus Marktplatz” shopping arcade commenced, a sketchbook belonging to Namibian artist Johannes Blatt dating back to 1931 was discovered in the roof structure of the building.
Johannes Blatt, as well as his son Arnfried Blatt were amongst the most celebrated artists in Namibia and their artworks are worth a fortune. Johannes Blatt and his wife Gertrud stayed in the Bonusmarkt building after his father-in-law, Mr Aladar Hrabovsky, bought the property for his newlywed daughter.
The book was discovered once the renovations of the old building progressed to the loft’s ceiling.
“We found quite a few personal items there, amongst them was the sketchbook,” confirmed Quinton Liebenberg, CEO of the Lighthouse Group. The sketches were valuated, but their value was not determined to be very high. The book features a handful of sketches.
The sketchbook dates back to September 1931, when Johannes Blatt was a young artist and had just returned from studying art in Hamburg. Blatt and his wife Getrud stayed in the Bonusmarkt building for about 20 years. They stayed in the top floor and Blatt had his art studio and gallery in the north-facing rooms. He was also an art teacher at the Swakop High School, as it was known back then.
Their two children, Arnfried and Helga, were raised in the building. After Johannes Blatt’s passing Gertrud inherited the Bonusmarkt around 1950. Arnfried, who was also a well-known and dedicated artist, stayed in the building with his wife Cathy Blatt. Cathy inherited the Bonusmarkt after Arnfried died in a plane crash in 1976. Cathy Blatt sold the Bonusmarkt to the Lighthouse Group a few years ago.
The complex is currently undergoing renovations, which are well under way, Liebenberg said. Once completed the building will feature a similar store, where there will be roast chicken and soft serve, like in the old days, whilst the remainder of the property will feature 14 shops.
The remarkable history of the building, as well as the book, was captured by Swakopmund residents Georg and Xenia Ivanoff-Erb.

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