by Jiří Hochman
essay on a film (amature film treatment) about Zdeněk Burian on the occasion of his 110th birth on February 11, 2015
©Jiří Hochman


Zdeněk (Michael František) Burian was born on Feburary 11, 1905 in small northern Moravian town of Kopřivnice in then Austrian-Hungarian Empire to parents of an arranged marriage. His father Eduard, a hard working and successful master-builder married Hermína, a younger woman of a notorious surname of Barabáš (like the biblical Barabbas, a crook released by Pilat instead of Jesus). According to some unconfirmed opinions, though, Zdeněk´s biological father was a famous Czech explorer, photographer and politician Enrique Stanko Vráz, whose several books Burian later illustrated…
Hermína really seemed to be sort of a black sheep of the family. For some pythical reason, not being exactly happy with her marriage, with her successful and handsome husband, although she had two healthy and prosperous sons with him It was this very notorious puta madre who took fourteen year old Zdeněk, still as an adolescent, a shy half boy, half man, from a provicial town of Kopřivnice right to the hustle and bustle capital of the Czech kingdom. Thus she opened the door for him to conquer the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague and years later the whole world.
Hermína herself, as eyewitnesses remember, was a very bad wife and equally bad housewife, had extramarrital afairs and conflicts with her husband even to the point of pulling the trigger of her revolver while the bullet for him engraved into the washbasin of their Kopřivnice bathroom. When young Zdeněk saw that during Academy vacation at home, he left and stopped as far as in southeastern Slovakia on the Slovak-Hungarian border where he joined at that time still nomadic Gypsies having their camp in the lowlands of the Ipel river.
„Oh, those violin melodies and the songs of theirs…and they never stole me a single cigarette there…!“ Did he remember his free roaming still fifty years later…The oil portraint of a gypsy mayor with a golden ring in his left ear was still to be found in his studio many decades later - untill it was tunneled, sacked by two notorious Czech families…one, sadly, of a well-know scientist from the National Museum.
And the bullet engraved in the wash basin and the gypsy camp rapsody took place just a year after he was accepted right to the second year of the Academy of Fine Arts of Prague at the age of fourteen shortly after the end of the WWI.


The four Academy of Fine Arts admission commitee members were the legendary professors Max Švabinský, Jakub Obrovský, Vlado Bukovac and Vojtěch Hynais. Burian remembered Švabinský´s historical sentence after he was accepted, „there is not much this school could teach you…“ and indeed, Burian´s Academy stay was short-lived. Less than two years. In the second year of his studies he had a heated discussion with professor Obrovský Burian tore up his works and left The Academy for good. He got lost in the dirty anonymity of the capital living almost a year like George Orwell in his Down and Out in Paris and London. Lliterally dying of hunger sleeping by changing a filthy bed in a slum with a thief, hungry Burian falling down to the same bed at night, working as a construction worker and baggage porter in the train station during the day, the thief sleeping in the same bed after his „night shift“ at day. Zdeněk Burian tried to comit a suicide in the slum kitchen by gas at that time.
Prague was not interested in his mission of future genius who would arouse in himself collective memory of mankind.


Sixteen year old Burian met his a year older future wife Františka when he fell down and fainted of hunger on a Prague sidewalk…but in the very same year, at the age of sixteen, he already illustrated his first novel: Robert Luis Stevenson´s Kidnapped. During his seventy six years long life he later made phenomenal, until today unsurpassed quash (and many other techniques) illustrations, some of his own new invetions to many other classics of the world adventerous litarature, mainly English, American, French, German.
It was R. L. Stevenson again, this time The Treasure Island, Daniel Defoe´s Robinson Crusoe, William Earl John´s Biggles Adventures, Rudyard Kipling, the Americans - Jack London, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Bret Harte, Cpt. Torry Gredsted and many others, etc, French Jules Verne´s novels, German Franz Schauwecker, Karl May, Russian sci-fi author Vlaldimír Afanasjevič Obručev and Czech authors like the famous Czech explorers Emil Holub, Alberto Vojtěch Frič and Enrique Stanko Vráz.
Only recently, already in the twenty first cetury, was there made a rare, rather offbeat but successful attemt to freely combine Zdeněk Burian´s romantic quashes with the English Rudyard Kipling´s phenomenal Brittish Empire poetry under the name „Men´s Songs“ while years ago Burian accompanied with perfect sence of the Indian nature and his original technique of the so called negative quashe Kiplings Jungle Books…

2. 1935

But Zdeněk Burians´pen and brush real conquest of the world gradually started a little later, in 1935, when he was „discovered“ by professor Josef Augusta of the Natural Sciences School of the Charles University of Prague, who got him for the splendid and at that time still revolutionary idea of creating anthropo-paleontological reconstructions whichk several diates later, made Prague the paleo capital of the world..
As of 1935, Zdeněk Burian thus embarked on a brand new journey: that of a „scienfific illustrator…apart from continuing to be a well established advetureous litarature one. He gradually became a tru guru of (at that time non-existing as an art discipline) paleoart. Paradoxically enough, the second world war with the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, was not a bad era for him…as well as for some other Czech artists like e. g. the family of Václav Havel and others. Generally, most Protektorat Czechs, betrayed by their major Western ally France, and England, more or less collaborated with the new Nazi European Union Masters, the Germans…




Apart from illustrating popular paleonovels of a Czech author Eduard Štorch like the well-known Mamoths Hunters and others, also, the most fruitful cooperation with professor Josef Augusta went on and led to Burian´s wonderful illustrations in The Forgotten Life (Zavátý Život, Published in 1941(!) and the first megapaleobible, a seven hundred pages evolution drama „Wonders of the Prehistoric World“ where his works, nevertheless, appeared still together with those of other artists, amongst others, the American giant Charles Knight. The great book was published in 1942, in the year of Nazi siege of Stalingrad!
There is a funny story remembered by the Burian family from that times of the bloody Heydrichiade (after the Czechoslovak parachutists sent by the Czechoslovak exile
government from London killed the Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich, the third in the SS
hierarchy). Right after Heydrich´s assesination the Gestapo started rifling Czech households in Prague, and, Burian, in their small Žižkov apartment, was in a rather strange habit of urinating into a potty, while sleeping in his still improvised studio, not to awake his family.
When the Gestapo rang the bell of his apartment, his wife already shopping and his daughter Eve in a German high school, he, half sleeping, went to open the door, still in his pyjama and full potty in his hand. The Gestapo officer started to laugh, then apologized and left…
The first years of the WWII in the Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren was not such a bad time for him…and his publishers although many authors were forbidden by the Nazi censors. His continuing illustrator´s and paleoartist´s success was developping on the background of World´s tragedy, namely Europe´s, and – the Holocaust. While Burian, himself being rather a First Republic tramp and a social demokrat, politically rather disoriantated regular wine consumer, and, sadly, anti-Semite believing in the message of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was living his perfect mammoths hunters phantasies, some of his fellow citizens were not that lucky. His future son-in- law Jiří Hochman was starving to death drinking dirty water from a concentration labour camp pond in Flossenbürg Vrchotovy Janovice and his Jewish father Emil in Terezín, their even less lucky Jewish relatives mashingunned in Majdanek, where the gas chambers were not completed yet, and others gassed in the deathcamp of Auschwitz.
Zdeněk Burian´s relatively good times during the Nazi occupation went on, though, marked by illustating also some patriotic titles like Božena Němcová´s Podhorská vesnice, Babička and Jan Neruda´s Povídky malostranské, but, on the other hand, from the other extreme even to the point of painting one of his masterpiece oil on canvas impeccable portraits: that of his Žižkov apartment neighbour, SS Sturmbannführer Hans Plenglen. That piece of art, however, was destroyed by Burian himself right in time when Plenglen was killed during the Prague May 1945 Uprising while Burian managed to join building the revolutionary barricades…just a couple of days before the liberation of Praha by the Russians.


The quality of the originals as well as of the book reproductions of ZB´s priceless gouache illustration technique were taken for granted for many years during the First Republic and even the Nazi ocuppation. Higly valued ever since the thirties of the last century until ZB´s decease and even more these days, in the second decade of the 21st century…for their creation by ZB were not to have that long lasting duration: especially after WWII, and, even more after the second betrayel by the West, the 1948 Communist takeover…Within a year, ZB´s main until then providers, the by their readers so favorite p r i v a t e publishing houses were being shut forever. The new state-owned ones had to flow on the new socialist wave: instead of the now „decadent“ Western, mainly Anglo-American authors, it was the until then unknown Soviet and Czech pro-soviet communist writers extolling Soviet heroism, soviet victories over the Nazis and condemning Western Capitalism, extolling the Soviet way of life and the endless beauties of the Siberian nature.
ZB, rather resigned, has has just changed his heroes - but not the main topic: the temple of n a t u r e and its dramas. Nevertheless, as of the beginning of the fifties, he was becoming desperate and frustrated by the low quality of the book and magazines paper and the reproductions colors of his original artwork as well as of the deprivation of everyday life behind the iron curtain. One hot summer day in 1951, as his daughter Eva remembers, he suddenly took – instead of a brush and wallnut wooden palette - an ax into his hand. And, right in the entrance yard of their Prague block of flats he hacked up a completely new socialit product, the so-called „gramorádio“, a revolutionary synthesis of a radio and a record-player, and, on top of the pile of the wreckage of that boast of new socialist electronics that apparently was not working, he put a pre-war high quality paper for gouache with his own hadwriting saying „a Czechoslovak junk“. Luckily for him, there was probably no communist informer around…
About a year later, in 1956 the whole Burian family moved already into a small villa of his own and he managed to have a medium size studio built there. When acquiring his Praha 4 Podolí villa with a beautiful terrace garden, he made a fatal mistake moving his old mother Hermína who brought him to Prague´s Academy of Fine Arts fourty years ago there, too. And with her, the old demons…as if he needed an inner tension for his creative work at any stake.
His by then deceased father Eduard´s worst nightmare was that she would return to Kopřivnice to spend her old age there (anyway, he, by then, had a fifty years younger girlfriend...). So Hermína was given a small room on the groundfloor at that time still without a toilet so that she had to defecate and urinate into a bucket. The old sins of her that were even written down by his father Eduard way back in Kopřivnice, were neither forgotten nor forbidden in Praha. And there were hysterical outbreaks of loud quarells at times one of which almost ended up tragically for her since ZB got infuriated chasing his old mum in her seventies around the house with a stick in his hand shouting on top of his voice: „you whore…!“ Sadly, he was somewhat right…
The fifties were passing by still under the sign of stalinism with international communism and patriotic books illustrations, one of which, illustrated by ZB, won the title „the most beautiful book illustrations of the year 1959“. It was water color drawings illustrated biografy of a Czech nineteenth cetury genius Jan Evangelista Purkyně, a poet, philosopher, but, namely, physician and discoverer of the cell as the basic element of life, predecessor of Freud and Jung´s dream theories and the first pioneer in animated film used then for scietific purposes only...
Thruout the changing regimes – democratic, nazi, communist – all of them were eager to get to know the human past, the origins of mankind, and, ZB´s genius and fertile cooperation with professor Augusta and other anthropo-paleo scientists went on.
Sometimes as of mid fifties, on the background of the recently ended Korean war, the last Stalinist purges all over the Communist bloc and the Hungarian uprising and the starting Vietnam war he gradually became the world number one paleoartist, well-known - apart from the Communist bloc - behind the iron curtain as well. It was already in the last half of the fifties that the Czechoslovak communist publishing houses Artia and Dilia were churning out large size prehistory titles like The Age of Monsters, The Early Man, The Prehistoric Life on Earth and others in hundreds of thousands of copies in more than twenty languages of the Earth in repeating editions...


In the sixties, not only the popular magazines and adventure literature authors but most Czech and foreign anthropo-paleoscientists wanted ZB to illustrate their paleo books, to name for all of them e. g. the American National Geographical Society´s project „Our Continent“ (natural history of North America). His star kept on shining on the world even more not only in the sixties but also seventies, and, even in the eighties thru the twenty first century longt after his decease. His name became as high quality trademark as the famous world number one Czech beer Pilsner Urquell.
ZB turned a highly importnat socialist camp export item to the Capitalist West earning to its red nobility bosses high reputation and millions in hard currency though he as a citizen of the Czechoslovak S o c i a l i s t Republic did not have the right to keep a hard currency account! All the millions of dollars and marks and pounds he was making abroad were being converted by the communist regime into worthless Czech socialist crowns, and, in a larcenous course. He was outraged with the system that hated and needed him at the same time, in which he was forced to live and work, never getting enough courage to flee…like many others to the West. On the contrary, he was captured by a socialist Czech tv program in his forest cottage house in Černošice cutting timber with a saw for his fireplace smiling patriotically into the camera and stressing: „I have everything here…!“ And it was not only behind the iron curtain but even during the time of the direct Soviet military occupation
that was inevitable. By „having everything here“, of course, he didn´t mean the socialist order and soviet tanks - but the unspoiled nature´s temple of h i s forrest…
Again and again, amongst his family and close friends, he just kept on drinking and reiterating his unforgettable unrealistic sentence: „I will have to shoot all those Communists…“ and his first born grandson Jiří kept on working hard to unblock his 1916
Russion WWI offensive Smith and Wesson 0.38 revolver, used as Burian´s main Wild West stories illustrations model and blocked by the Communist police after the „Victorious February 1948“ when all the fire arms had to be reported and made non-functioning…


the sixties meant more liberalization of the tight communist grip opening the iron curtain windows to the West. There was the posibility for ZB to illustrate the Western authors again, not only in the Czechoslovak socialist republic but also abroad, namely in West Germany´s Bamberg, where the well-known ancient Karl May Verlag of the Schmid brothers made its seat after moving from the original East German Radebeul at Dresden. So once again, ZB illustrated, amongst other books and youth and popular science magazines and oil portraits, the Wild West Karl May fiction on both sides of the border. And, as of 1968 until 1971, when it was banned again by the Russians and their Czech fifth column, he made a wonderful series of eighty gouaches, his phenomal priceless technique, to Edgar Rice Borroughs´s Tarzan. It was such a success even overseas that the whole collection was finally bought by the Americans and became a permanent exhibition in ERB´s museum in Tarzania, Los Angeles, California…
The 1968, like thirty and twenty years ago, the magic Czech ill-fated eight-ending numbers, ended up tragically, too.
The hasty but extraordinarily noisy morning of the twenty first of August 1968, ZB´s wife Františka woke up her grandsons in rather a loud voice, opening the bedroom door saying simply: „Get up boys, the Russians have assailed us“. And, indeed, the air was heavy with the soviet Antonov military planes and the small country was overflooded by half a million Warsaw pact soldiers and their kalashnikovs. At about noon, a slowly moving soviet tank made it even up to the residential district where ZB had his family house and studio, as if the Russians, in their notorious way, came to ask the Master for his autograph. But he was not there!
As every oncoming fall, he stayed well hidden contemplating in his Černošice forrest hide out about 25km off the capital. A question came into being how to get him back to our – now 100% soviet – civilization? His two taxi drivers were not operatig. There was no way to cross the bridges accross the Vltava river, occupied by the Russian tanks. Nothing was reliable, only occasional deaths from a nervous burst of kalashnikov fire and long lines for foodstaffs in front of all the socialist supermarkets... The Czechs were also putting passive resistence: dismantelling the labels with street names and other transport indicators, strikes, persuading the Soviets in the streets in perfect Russian, obligatory in Czech schools, that there was no counter-revolution…and the undergrounad tv, radio and newspapers were still free.
In three days ZB came to the conclusion that something happend. He climbed down the wooded hill, and waited for a train to Prague. At the Smíchov station he took a tram. The tram was ok but soon there was a soviet military transporter coming up speeding very fast so the tram driver braked equally fast and a crowd of people pushed on ZB´s right arm holding handle while standing – dislocating his right shoulder. He got back home via a hospital where there were treating Czech civilians injured by Russian kalashnikov fire…
That tram accident left him partly disabled for the rest of his life. He has never been able to put on a coat with his right arm, fortunately could paint and draw on.
In spite of his success and well-being, becoming gradually one of the not so many millionairs in the „socialist camp“ having two houses, two gardens, two drivers and three dogs, smoking western cigarettes „HB“ and drinking Schotch Whisky and a brand red wine, more misfortunes were to appear soon, leading towards a dismal end of his fabulous private world while the outside world itself was still knocking on his studio´s world gate.


(to steal Zdeněk Burian…by „the great mystifier“)


Said an American painter Roy G. Krenkel four years later in 1972 about Burian´s fiction illustrations of the Wild West: Old Surehand set…gave me chuckle when I considered that Burian in the heart of Europe once again beat the US artists who live in the „Ol´ West“, at their own game! We do have a few great Western painters whe knew their stuff: Charlie Russell, Remington, some less near-greats – all deceased by now. I don´t offhand know of any still alive who can match the quality in the two (Karl May) Surehand volumes…“
ZB has always sufferred from not having a son though. His relationship with his only daugher Eva was equally difficult as that towards his puta madre Hermína since Eva, to a large extent, took after her. ZB was regularly drowning his sadness of life in alkohol, more or less every evening.
Suddenly, there turned up a young boy of the name Petr Sadecký who once came to see ZB to his studio as one of his hundreds of thousands of mostly young admireres…with the exception that Burian came to like him so that Peter´s visits would become frequent for many years to come. Peter became almost a member of ZB´s family. The boy was intelligent and searching and very well educated, especially in the Soviet cinematography, to that extent that he was accepted to the Film Academy of Prague at the age of seventeen.
At the time of his studies he also became a Stb (Czechoslovak secret communist police cooperating closely with the Kgb) agent under the code name Otakar Batlička, being able to travel freely over the iron curtain to the West. During his many visits of the free world, he got a very good idea of the market economy functioning especially with regard to Western culture and he, gradually, developped a devilish plan…
Already in 1965, he persuaded ZB to illustrate a bombastic comics serial for him as an author with the promise of a lucrative reward in hard currency. The main hero was supposed to be a blond sexbomb, sort of an anarchistic revolutionary woman struggling against civilization in exotic parts of the world operating under the name of „Amazona“. Sadecký gained so much the trust of ZB that he allowed him to concentrate his works in Sadecký´s apartment, where, as it appeared later, he was also stockpiling artwork of another Czech artist, Bohumil Bimbo Konečný.
ZB saw Sadecký as an ideal son and husband for his divorced daughter Eva, who, nevertheless kept on being a problematic unbalanced element at that time, already knowing Sadecký´s devilish plan.
Two years later, on the fifth of January 1967, to a great surprise of all, Peter Sadecký did not return to Prague from one of his journeys to the West. In the same year when the Russians sold Che Guevara to the Americans who, nevertheless never could interrogate him because the Bolivians executed him. The world liked the stories of great revolutionaries then.
He decided to emigrate to West Germany. Gradually, it was becoming known and clear that over all those years of friendship and „deep art studies“ in ZB´s studio, not only that he was getting the unsuspecting ZB into his idea of the „biggest comics of all times“ but he was also stealing his original legendary ancient artworks, hiding them under his clothes and taking them first to his Prague apartment and then to the promised West. In this colossal criminal activity also Burian´s daughter Eva, at least according to another both ZB family and Sadecký´s friend, the writer Jaroslav Čvančara, took part during their common trip to Vienna…
Sadecký headed directly to Bamberg, to Karl May Verlag of the Schmid brothers. Very soon did he sell most of ZB´s stolen artworks to them under an assumed name of „Roy Paul Drake“ (all stolen ZB´s originals were provided with his stamp of this fake name) and took the position of the administrator of their archives while they have been making a good business with them until today without paying any copyright.
That was just the beginning of a much bigger deal that was to shake the media on both side of the iron curtain very soon…

Sadecký, perhaps the greatest Czech mystifier of all times, who would die in West Germany´s Göttingen after an apoplexy in the local bakery of a brain tumor in 1991, had several lives and several conspiratorial apartments. He came to understand very soon that in order to strike a real fortune with „his“ comics in the dead of the Cold War, he would have to add a strong, atractive political underline. So he did not hesitate a long time and added a soviet five-tip red star on the forhead of ZB´s Amazona and changed her name into Octobriana (after the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia).
He thus started to offer the newly adopted Octobriana hot product for publication adding a brand new fantastic commentary declaring publicly in the dead of the Cold War with the Russian tanks on the Czechoslovakian border what the West enjoyed so much to hear: that it was a sample of dissident movement comics in the USSR!
The superwoman Octobriana in that comics struggles against the contemporary Kremlin rulers for the right ideals of Communism! Sadecký´s babble was almost immediately accepted being breathed in life just in time while the Soviet invasion to Czechoslovakia was still very much alive.
The first publishing house to issue Sadecký´s compilation with ZB´s covers under the title of „Octobriana and the Russian Underground“ was Tom Stacey in London in 1971, the publication in the USA followed suit in the same year and German edition in then West Germany in 1972. Half naked animal Russian revolutionary sexbomb Octobriana from Prague started gradually to live her own life while Sadecký was arrested in France…the Czech mystification became a sexcult atracted even by some British pop superstars! The pop-punk singer Billy Idol had her tatood on his arm, and David Bowie wanted to shoot a film about her starring Amanda Lear. Bryan Talbot used the Octobriana personage in his cult comics The Advetures of Luther Arkwright…

Petr Sadecký was the first to steal the genius of Zdeněk Burian. He showed the other crooks who came after him the way.

In the meantime, on the other side of the iron curtain, in the recently invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia, the so called „normalization“ was taking place. „Normalization“ was the official term of the real socialism „newspeak“ - normalization as an opposite of the „non-normal“, i. e. of the Warsaw Pact night invasion and occupation of a Warsaw Pact member peaceful country, which, soon after the kidnnapping of the czechoslovak pro-reform leaders to Moscow and their forced signature of the „Moscow Protocoles“ was thus legalized! Part of the normalization legal newspeak was – in the framework of dialectical materialism – the transformation of the koncept of invasion into the as of now officially used „brotherly help“. It was the time of George Orwell´s fiction world turned into a central Eurpean everyday reality.
A neostalinistic time of fear and uncertainty. The time of the Brezhnev doctrine.
Under the sign of the „normalization“, there were mass layoffs of the Czechoslovakian intelligentsia, proreform politicians, journalists and writers. Fear was felt everywhere and the prosoviet purged mass media were operating under a tight control of the communist secret police…
During 1972, some four years after the invasion (now „the brotherly help“), as the Oktabriana issue was coming nearer to the Czechoslovakian border with the German edition, the Czechoslovak mass media campaign was equally intensifying. First the magazines and newspapers lead by the Czechoslovakian Communist Party daily Rudé Právo (The Red Right), and The World of Socialism, and, finálly, on March nine 1972, there appeared a special program on the Czechoslovakina television in the main broadcasting time introduced by a a Stb (Czechoslovak secret police) major Kühnel called „A Scandal With Amazona“.
Burian (and his colleague Konečný) had to take part in a carefully orchestrated show where
he was publicly remaining aloof of the Oktobriana. He did not have to lie much. His was the Amazona part…
Fortunately for him, due to his importace for Czechoslovakia world renown and high state profits for the communist regime coming mainly from his paleopart of his life artwork, by mid 1972 he could freely continue working. Nevertheless, the Sadecký betrayal scared his psyche and his everyday alkohol consumption became stronger and dangerous since he was gradually sinking into pathological paranoid states of mind. He could not sleep. There was half of the world adventurous lilterature and the whole anorganic and organic history of the planet in his head. The family was long ago taking as normal his remarks like „I could not sleep the whole night because some Arab was aiming at me“.
A long time associate and family friend, professor Augusta, who descovered Burian for paleoart died in 1968. Now, in the seventies, he went on working mainly with professor Zdeněk Špinar but also with Dr. Beneš and professor Wolf, publishing amongst other titles two new paleomegabibles translated again into dozens of world languages: Wolf¨s The Dawn of Man, and, Špinar´s later adopted in an English version and published by Thames and Hudson under the title Life Before Man that was still to be seen in bookstores in the next twentyfirst century….


(to steal Zdeněk Burian…by The Šmírovskýs and The Mrazíks)


Still waters run deep. One would say that the larceny and fraud by Petr Sadecký was more than enough for one´s life…but not for the life of an artist who fell down of hunger on Prague sidewalk in less than sixteen, stood up and, in the same year, illustrated his first book.
Everybody was used to lie in the seventies and eighties, and most people in the "Czechoslovak Socialist Republic" lived two lives. One was that of the official yesman at school and at work with the ridiculous communist slogans like "glory to communism", "with the Soviet Union forever", "in the unity of the socialist countries lies our strength"…on every wall. At home, most people hated and rudiculed the system although the open dissidents were very few and Zdeněk Burian was not among them unlike his one time son in law, the leading Czech journalist and father of his grandsons Jiří Hochman who was deprived of the Czechoslovak citizenship on political reasons in 1975 and expelled from the country. He died as an American citizen. As a retiree he was enjoying shooting salvos in honor of the dead with his felow American retirees, Korea and Vietnam war veterans. In spite of the fact that while they were fighting against Communism in Asia, he was still writing his communist editorias in Rudé Právo (The Red Right), the official Communist Party of Czechoslovakia daily. He died as an American leftist with a big Che Guevara photo on the wall of his house in Palm Coast, Florida, a photo that he himself took during his interview with Che in La Habana in 1960.
Most people were stealing whatever they could in Czechoslovakia of the seventies. There was even a populár saying "he who doesn not steel on the society preys on his own family"… Indeed, that was exactly what was going on not only in the Czech "normalized" world but perhaps even more in Zdeněk Burian´s small villa and studio in the second half of the seventies and in the beginning of the eighties. For there was a family of the name Šmerhovský, which, a decade after the Peter Sadecký scandal, took his example but on a much, much larger and totally devastating scale.

A neighbour of the Burians in the same street in that part of Prague that was then called „the red Podolí“ – apparantely for the number of communists living there – mentioned his famous neighbour ZB to a certain Josef ŠmÍrovský, a clerk of rather mysterious background, on the
break of the sixties and seventies. The silent man came and bought one of Burians pictures and then anothter one. Later, he brought over his equally silent son, Milan, also a great admirer of the Master´s art, a van driver of some socialist organization and a jack of all trades. In those dark times of „real socialism“ when most people had little motivation to strive, a quality labour was rather rare as well as basic common materials like construction elements that were to be got by fits and starts as well as bananas and oranges. The Communist system even developped special chain of stores called Tuzex where Czechoslovak citizens earning in hard currency in the West (like ZB) could buy quality Western products only. But not for hard currency itself: the shrewd communists developped an artificial paper vouchers for their Tuzex chain called the bons. A marxist-leninist rip-off blessed by sovient tanks.
And the communists were trying once again, like in the fifties, to get Burian rid of his summer studio surrounded by a half hectar wood, his genius locí and wildlife asylum in Černošice where he was drawing inspiration and creating a number of studies and works. And suddenly, the very Šmírovský sr. offerred help and he somehow miraculously succeded in getting Burian rid of the communist pressure so that ZB could keep his forest gorge asylum property… Now Šmírovský did not ask untaxed money as a reward anymore: he asked for Burian´s original paintings and illustrations!!! Not hundreds like „the amateure thief“ Sadecký – but in thousands!!! So the common maintanance work was being bartred for unique artworks worth of tens of millions. The Šmírovskýs were shrewed gangsters who kept on abusing the unhappy old artist decomposed by alcohol and communist injustice and his situation and state of health for years. Not long after that poor Zdeněk Burian, a world renowned genius artist, unfortuantely living on the wrong side of the iron curtain, needed to repair the fence of his forest garden…and later the roof of his country house. Bad luck. There was noone around in the communist swamp but the jack of all trades, the „good and willing“ Milan Šmírovský. And Burian again, saw a son in him like years ago in Sadecký…. What´s worse, at that time there did not pass a single night without alcohol intoxication in Master´s bedroom. Burian, slowly but surely being decomposed by booze was turning paranoid alcoholic, his artistic zenith gradually going down. The burden of life too heavy. He became desperate at nights of his addiction, often roaring the basic philosophical question of his existence (and perhaps of the existence of all mankind as well?) to the night: „Fucking Kopřivnice, why did you give birth to me…“? And there was more whisky and more wine…“ and, for the family, his wife, his daughter and his grandsons, the worst was yet to come . The final years of his life, Burian was becoming slightly deaf and deeply paranoid fixed at his posterity as his arch enemies…
There was a regular afternoon coffee with milk traditionally prepared by Burian himself in the summer of 1977. The very same year of Chart 77 Czechoslovak disident movement proclamation… The old cofee pot boiling water whistling in the upstairs kitchen. He suddenly sat down on the sofa and pointed his index finger at his grandsons saying quietly but decisivly to their granny, his by then obese wife Františka, a year before her death: You see, Evzho, (her familiar nickname), those are our arch enemies…!“ – A sentence as if torn from Karl May´s Vinnetou which would have been equally convincingly utterred by Kiowa chieftain Tangua right before digging up the war ax... And his wife Františka froze and started to cry. She was still strong but rather exhasted trying to keep the level of mental normality in the family but that was far too much for her. And there was a deadly blow she would never to recover from coming up. And the name of her ugly Angel of death was Ruslana Mrzáková.

It was not only the Šmírovskýs. Sadly enough, the other „tunnel party“ came directly from the Czech National Museum. In the very same year, in 1977, there was a book entitled „How Did A Man Developped“ by Vítězslav Mrazík and Zdeněk Burian published.
Professor Doctor Vítězslav Mrazík was the last – and for the Burian family fatal – significant
scientist to work with Burian. Mrazík was a zoologist and paleoanthropologist and also a knacky animals cartoonist of his books. He desribed a subspecies of tiger (the indochinese one) and, together with Dr. Collin Groves, also an ancestor of today´s man, Homo Ergaster. Being also a specialist on cetaceans…since Mrazík also loved Herman Melville´s Moby-Dick.
His best contribution to Zdeněk Burian´s life was that he was quite frequently pouring the contents of Burian´s whisky bottles into the toilet. He also started to catalogue Burian´s vast artwork. The number of Zdeněk Burian´s originál artwork by then were fifteen thousand works and he has illustrated over five hundred books and created over six hundred book covers!!! Only the Artia publishing company number of books with Zdeněk Burian illustrations for abroad reached two million… And Burian´s artwork paintings were to be found all over the world by then.
Mrazík´s worst contribution to Zdeněk Burian was that, during the end of the seventies, he brought over his wily and greedy wife Ruslana to Burian´s studio.
Burian´s by then 73 year old wife Františka who has enabled him a very quiet and easy life for almost sixty years organizing all the basic needs around their household dealing daily with a team of assistant people was despirited not only by all those difficult years by his side and the increasing paranoid alcoholism of his, but, now, by the more and more frequent presence of Mrazík´s wife in Burian´s studio. Mrazík´s wife was gradually becoming sort of Zdeněk Burian´s secretary for the last two years of his life. And she was very efficient.
Both the Mrazík´s and the Šmírovskýs gradually persuaded by them easily influenced and impressible Burian to let them deposit more and more ZB´s originál artworks in their homes! Sadecký really was a low key compared to them.
Seventy five year old Burian himself was now losing idea of the whereabouts of the thousands of his original lifeartwork worth of millions deposited with the two families. His own family living in anxiety, desperate and helpless. His old and sick wife surviving upstairs, now barely walking, with a stick, the stairs down to the studio less and less accessible for her…
Burian family doctor, the chief internist of the nearby clinic, a Ukranian Dr. Ivan Žabinec, amongst whose prominents clients belonged also comareds from the Prague 4 town hall called nation commitee at that time, meticulously cared about Burian never being treated psichiatrically so that he could earn hard currency to the communist regime…
In this favourable constellation, the vultures were easily butchering their easy prey.
Only at times were there bust-ups amongst them but in the end, by 1980, there was a final agreement reached between the Šmírovskýs and the Mrzáks on how to devide the lucrative loot: the Mrazíks would get the prehistory part and the Šmírovskýs thousands of the adventure literature illustrations.
As if Burian´s own family did not exist…
Burian´s wife Františka died on October 18, 1979. Her decease heralded the forthcoming culmination of the Burian´s family tragedy and the unprecedented, unbelievable and t o t a l holocaust of their family archives comprising of thousands of Zdeněk Burian´s originál artwork.


(to steal Zdeněk Burian…by the Stb and Jakuzza in Japan)


If someone in Prague of the eightees said drinking the excellent Czech beer Pilsner Urquell and smoking the „hard Sparta“ cigarettes“ at U Jelínků pub in downtown Prague „there is a giant business between Zdeněk Burian dinosaurs, the communist secret police Stb and the Japanese organized crime Jakuzza“, he would have been laughed at by all the present guests at the table as a crazy drunkard…
But…what happened is that soon after Burian wife´s funeral, Mrazíková, now Zdeněk Burian´s omnipotent secretary, no more disturbed by Burian´s wife Františka, was introducing Far East Japanese visitors in Zdeněk Burian´s studio. And it was a really great show: business smiles, shaking hands, bows, flashes of the Japanese state-of-the-art cameras. There was no sushi, though, behind the iron curtain. And there were not many paleo originals left in our (Zdeněk Burian´s) villa any more…but the smiling and accommodating Mrs. Mrazíková knew where to find them. And there was a blueprint and there was an agreement between the Stb agents working in the highly sensitive state owned Artcentrum company representing the Czechoslovak artists towards abroad, and, their Japanese counterpart. And both paries knew the name of the game and the name of the next act: money from the admission fee.
The Artcentrum and the Japanese with American specialists were going to introduce the brilliant Kopřivnice boy in Tokyo. They prepared a supermegashow of extremely large blow-ups of Burians paleoreconstructions in the area of half a football ground in the amusement park of Seibuen, owned by a private company Seibu, in the Tokorozawa City close to Tokyo. The organizer was the „SCARS team“ of the Artcentrum under the leadership of comrade professor ing. Jaroslav Frič. The admitance fee in Japan was the equivalent of five American dollars and the turnout: one milion people per month.
On March 15, 1980 the greatest overseas presentation of Master Zdeněk Burian artwork opens in the presence of the Czechoslovak Ambassador in Japan, comrade R. Houšek. The show was such a success that it would last until November 1990!!! One year a f t e r the Czech Velvet Revolution in November 1989 deposing the fourty years communist dictatorship back in Prague.
Knowing the basic input figures, it is not such a difficult mathematics to count the profit. The minimal profit of that Tokyo Burian supermegashow was between four hundred and six hundred milion American dollars…and Zdeněk Burian was the superstar of that show.
Now some may ask how much did Zdeněk Burian receive as a copyright royalty from the Czechoslovak government for more than ten years and a half of supersuccessful representing his country.
The answer is: n o t h i n g.
But there were very cordial greetings from the part of the Czechoslovak communist prime ministr comrade Lubomír Štrougal. The „aryanization“ of Burian´s intellectual property would come as not such a big surprise from the part of the communist thieves. The problem of today´s Czech state is that the Zdeněk Burian so far unpaid Japanese megashow took place also another year after the Velvet Revolution (November 1989) – until November 1990 in already democratic Czechoslovakia!
So, If somebody asks where that (morally) small country lies, the answer might be: somewhere between The Third Reich and Ulus Dzhuchi (Khanate Golden Horde)…
And the Czechoslovak socialist republic assessed old age pension to its world famous artist at: 1.228 Czech crowns (€ 45,50) per month. But the old Master Zdeněk Burian never enjoyed his old age pension. He died working on a state contract for the East Bohemian Zoo-safari on July 1, 1981.
Several years after Burian´s decease, also his personal doctor the chief internist of Prague 4 is dying and the obscure circumstances of Burian´s decease remains shrouded in mystery.




After Zdeněk Burians death, his daughter Eva managed, thru judicial procedure, to recover a very small portion of her father´s original artworks from Ruslana Mrazíková.
There was a rumor that the Americans put Burian´s paintings in motion during the last period of Burian´s Japanese supermegashow. Two years later, Spielberg´s blockbuster Jurassic Park turned up. In one of his interviews, Steven Spielberg himself is said to reveal: „If it were not for Zdeněk Burian I would have never had the idea to shoot Jurassic Park“.
Burian did not die as poor as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart but he died as a completely stolen genius. Perhaps his fate resembles that of one of the most famous Russians, Michail Timofejevič Kalashnikov, the creator of the legendary AK-47 who has never been paid for the sale of the millions of guns bearing his name…the diference being that Burian lived in the heart of Europe ocupied by the Russian, and, that Burian´s artwork has not kilem anybody.
The Burian bionegative burden family tragedy was crowned by his only daughter Eva in 1990, who, in the same year of the closure of the Japanese Zdeněk Burian copyright supermegafraud „sold“ Zdeněk Burian´s villa with double garage, terrace gardens and Burian´s studio ten minutes walk from the Prague Pankrác subway station for five hundred thousand crowns and two small prefab flats, less than a quarder of its real price.
Eva Burianová was the well-known psychiatrist Petr Příhoda´s pacient. He later became spokesman of the prime ministr of the Czechoslovak postrevolutionary democratic government Dr. Petr Pithart.

Sources: family and official mass media and books