The Weidler auction house in Nuremberg held an unusual event last weekend. On finely carved easels, auctioneers propped up 14 items, ranging from ornate watercolors of German castles to pictures of flowers.

The pieces weren’t particularly good, experts admitted. Yet the batch of middling art fetched a whopping $450,000.

How to explain the outrageous price for such mediocre wares? It had less to do with the artworks’ quality and more to do with the seven letters in their bottom corners: “A. Hitler.”

Seventy years after Nuremberg hosted war-crimes tribunals, the Weidler auction house displayed a crude drawing of a naked woman sketched by none other than Adolf Hitler.

The sale of the despot’s early artwork is just the latest in a string of contentious auctions. Last year, Sotheby’s was criticized for selling an Egon Schiele piece without compensating the family from which it had allegedly been stolen by Nazis.

In April, an auction of artwork by Japanese-Americans imprisoned in internment camps during World War II was canceled after a public outcry.

And earlier this month, a Paris auction featuring Hopi ceremonial dolls was interrupted by protesters who shouted, “You can’t sell sacred works!”

The controversies come against a backdrop of soaring prices for auctioned artwork. In May, Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers” became the most expensive painting ever sold at auction when an anonymous bidder dropped $179 million on it.

The sale of Hitler’s art, however, is particularly vexing.

Pictures of flower pots and nude women by a young Adolf appear grotesque in light of the Holocaust. Fairy tale-like paintings of German castles contrast with the destruction that Hitler’s madness brought upon Germany and the rest of Europe.

At the same time, the links between Hitler’s idealized pictures and his eventual obsession with Aryan purity are even more haunting.

Twice rejected from Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts, Hitler nevertheless considered himself an “artistic genius,” according to art historian Birgit Schwarz.

“This was someone who issued the so-called Nero Decree (ordering the destruction of his own country lest it fall into Allied hands) while at the same time making sure art treasures were rescued,” she told Der Spiegel magazine in 2009.

In Germany, it is legal to sell Hitler’s art as long as it contains no Nazi symbols. But its sale is nonetheless “highly controversial as 80 percent of the proceeds go to private sellers,” according to German news wire DPA.