A stolen Gustav Klimt painting worth £26m that was confiscated by the Nazis must be returned to the heirs of a Canadian Jewish family. It has been in the collection of a well known Austrian museum (the Museum of Modern Arts in Saltburg) for decades but under restitution laws is set to return to the grandson of its original owner Amalie Redlich, who died in the Holocaust. Georges Jorisch is an 81 year old man living in Montreal and the only surviving member of the family. The painting will most likely end up at auction at either Sotheby’s or Christie’s. It is speculated that the Neue Gallery in New York a private museum owned by the Estee Lauder family is interested in the painting for its collection. The Nazi controlled government had seized the painting, after she was deported in 1941, at the height of World War II. She was later murdered. The work “Litzlberg on the Attersee “was painted in 1915 and depicts cottages and churches with a lake in the foreground and hills in the background. The large landscape is painted in Klimt’s unique Secessionist style.
Under the 1998 restitution law, Austria has returned some 10,000 paintings confiscated by the Nazis to the heirs of their rightful owners. “The conditions for a return of the painting to Amalie Redlich’s rightful heirs have been fulfilled,” said Salzburg deputy governor Wilfried Haslauer in a statement released on Thursday. “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,” Wilfried Haslauer, director of the Museum of Modern Arts, also said, The local assembly of Salzburg province must still approve the restitution in order to handover the painting but this is expected to go ahead in a few weeks time.