£26m Gustav Klimt painting stolen by the Nazis to be returned to grandson of Austrian Holocaust victim

Daily Mail 22 April 2011

An Austrian museum plans to return a precious Gustav Klimt painting to the heir of its rightful owner after researchers discovered it was confiscated by the Nazis.

Stolen: The 1915 Gustav Klimt painting 'Litzlberg am Attersee' will be returned to the grandson of Amalie Redlich, who was deported to Poland and killed by the Nazis in World War Two

The painting, 'Litzlberg am Attersee' - currently owned by Salzburg's modern art museum - is estimated to be worth as much as £26.7million.

Research by various experts tasked with tracing the origin of the work showed that the Nazis seized the now 96-year-old painting from an apartment in a village near Vienna during World War Two.

The apartment was owned by a woman named Amalie Redlich, who was deported to Poland in October 1941, where she was killed, Salzburg deputy governor Wilfried Haslauer said.

The painting was bought by Salzburg art collector and dealer Friedrich Welz, who exchanged it in 1944 for a piece from the city's state gallery.

It was subsequently taken over bt the state gallery's successor, the Salzburger Residenzgalerie, in 1952 and later became part of the inventory of Salzburg's modern art museum.

Haul: General Eisenhower inspects paintings stolen by the Nazis and kept in a salt mine at Merkers, Germany

Artist: Klimt's painting has been valued at as much as £26.7m and was taken from Ms Redlich's apartment near Vienna

Mr Haslauer told Austrian radio Oe1: 'This is looted art, there's absolutely no question about that.'

Ms Redlich's heir is her 83-year-old grandson, Georges Jorisch, who lives in Montreal, Canada.

Salzburg's government now has to decide whether to proceed with the restitution, as recommended by Mr Haslauer. It is expected to do so by this summer.

Mr Jorisch's lawyer, Alfred J. Noll, told the radio station: 'In no other case have I experienced such openness and objectivity during the discussion of individual points.'

The likely restitution is a reminder of the return in 2006 of five other Klimt paintings by Vienna's Belvedere gallery to the late Maria Altmann of Los Angeles, niece of a Viennese art patron.

Ms Altmann had waged a seven-year fight for their return. An arbitration court ruled that they were improperly seized by the Nazis who annexed Austria in 1938.

Austria has returned looted works of art held by federal museums to their rightful owners or heirs, most of them Jewish, under a 1998 restitution law.
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