The Shmooze

Man Reclaims Klimt Painting Stolen By Nazis

By Michael Kaminer

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A Montreal man will finally get to reclaim a prized Gustav Klimt painting the Nazis stole from his Austrian grandmother.

The Montreal Gazette reports that the Austrian government and the Salzburg Modern Art Museum have agreed that Klimt’s “Litzlberg am Attersee” was the rightful property of the late Amalie Redlich – and that as her only heir, 83-year-old George Jorich, should benefit from the painting’s eventual sale. The work’s estimated value: At least $27 million.

“As painful as returning this painting is for the…collection, the province and all of Austria, I believe the Salzburg government must stay on the path started in 2002 and not allow itself to benefit from a criminal regime,” said Wilfried Haslauer, director of the Museum of Modern Arts, according to Reuters. He was referring to a 2002 accord struck with Jewish organizations on returning assets that Nazis stole. The Salzburg government and parliament have to approve the move, Reuters reports.

This is the second time Jorisch and his legal team have successfully reclaimed a Klimt, according to the Gazette. In 2010, “Church of Cassone-Landscape with Cypresses” – also part of his grandmother’s looted collection - was sold at Sotheby’s for $45.4 million.

“The painting turned up in 1962, lent for an exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of Klimt’s birth. Jorisch split an undisclosed portion of the proceeds of the auction with the collector who owned the painting at the time,” the Gazette writes.

Under a 1998 restitution law, Austria has returned 10,000 Nazi-stolen paintings to the descendants of their former owners, the newspaper says.


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