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Misplaced Portrait by Gustav Klimt Fetches EUR 30 million at Viennese Public sale

Misplaced Portrait by Gustav Klimt Fetches EUR 30 million at Viennese Public sale

A portrait of a girl by artist Gustav Klimt that reappeared after practically a century offered for EUR 30 million, setting a report value for an Austrian public sale regardless of questions surrounding its provenance.

Vienna public sale home im Kinsky had estimated the worth at EUR 30-50 million for the Bildnis Fraeulein Lieser (Portrait of Miss Lieser), which was commissioned by a rich Jewish industrialist’s household and painted by Klimt in 1917 shortly earlier than he died. Portraits by the Austrian nice not often come onto the open market.

Gustav Klimt’s portrait Dame mit Faecher (Woman with a Fan) offered for GBP 74 million in a London public sale final 12 months. (Picture: Wikimedia/Public Area)

Final June, Gustav Klimt’s portrait Dame mit Faecher (Woman with a Fan) was offered in London for GBP 74 million, a European artwork public sale report. The very best value paid at public sale in Austria is a piece by Flemish painter Frans Francken II, which fetched EUR 7 million in 2010.

Gustav Klimt’s unfinished portrait of a dark-haired lady was doubtless final seen at a Viennese exhibition in 1925. It re-emerged this 12 months when im Kinsky introduced its sale.

“Nobody anticipated {that a} portray of this significance, which had disappeared for 100 years, would resurface,” mentioned im Kinsky skilled Claudia Moerth-Gasser forward of the public sale.

Helene, Annie or Margarethe?

Apart from Portrait of Miss Lieser, sketches by Klimt and works by his contemporaries corresponding to Egon Schiele additionally went below the hammer. Forward of the public sale, the well-preserved portray had been placed on present in Vienna, Switzerland, Germany, Britain and Hong Kong.

gustav klimt portrait
Bildnis Fraeulein Lieser (Portrait of Miss Lieser), by Gustav Klimt. (Picture: Wikimedia/Public Area)

The unsigned portray reveals a younger lady adorned with a big cape richly embellished with flowers on a brilliant pink background. Thriller surrounds the identification of the mannequin, who visited Klimt’s studio 9 instances for the portrait. She is thought to be from the Lieser household, a Jewish industrial dynasty.

She may very well be one of many two daughters, named Helene and Annie, of Henriette (Lilly) Lieser, an artwork patron. However the first catalogue devoted to Klimt, relationship from the Sixties, mentioned it was Lieser’s niece, Margarethe. Lilly Lieser remained in Vienna regardless of the Nazi takeover, was deported in 1942 and murdered within the Auschwitz focus camp in 1943.

A dealer of questionable morals

Earlier than her demise, Lieser appears to have entrusted the portray to a member of her employees, Austrian every day Der Normal discovered based mostly on correspondence in an Austrian museum.

It then turned up within the possession of a Nazi dealer, whose daughter inherited it and who in flip left it to distant family after her demise.

Im Kinsky, which specialises in restitution procedures, insists it has discovered no proof that the work was stolen or unlawfully seized. The again of the portray is “utterly untouched” and has “no stamps, no stickers, nothing” which might point out it was seized or left Austria, based on the public sale home. Furthermore, not one of the Lieser descendants who survived the warfare claimed the portray.

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(Picture: im Kinsky)

Moerth-Gasser advised AFP the present house owners, who want to stay nameless, contacted im Kinsky two years in the past for authorized recommendation. Im Kinsky then knowledgeable the Lieser households, who’re largely US-based. Some travelled to see the portray, earlier than signing an settlement with the house owners, thus eradicating any impediment to its sale. Nonetheless, some consultants have known as for a extra in-depth investigation of the work’s provenance.

“A number of factors ought to be questioned extra critically, because the provenance of the image has not but been utterly clarified,” Monika Mayer, head of archives on the Belvedere museum, which homes Klimt’s well-known The Kiss, was quoted as saying by Austria’s Profil journal.

Furthermore, the portray was not offered in america, for concern it may very well be held there, as has occurred earlier than with Austrian works below dispute.

Austrian museums have returned plenty of Austrian artworks to descendants of Jewish artwork collectors, together with an American claimant who sought 5 Klimt masterpieces.

This text was printed by way of AFP Relaxnews.

(Important picture: Alex Halada/AFP©; featured picture: Wikimedia/Public Area)

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