Israel Insider 9 May 2006
An Austrian arbitration panel ruled on Monday that a portrait by Gustav Klimt was not looted by the Nazis and does not have to be turned over to heirs of former owners.
The three-man panel found that the picture "Amalie Zuckerkandl" was sold by its rightful owner to the Austrian Gallery Belvedere after it changed hands voluntarily several times, the Austria Press Agency reported. As such, it did not represent a case of illegal gain by the Nazis who ruled Austria during World War II, the panel decided.
All sides involved - the Austrian government and lawyers representing two groups of claimants - had previously agreed to respect the panel's ruling.
Austria has returned hundreds of works to their rightful owners or heirs - most of them Jewish - under a 1998 culture property restitution law.
Just last month, five Klimt pictures - including the famed gold-encrusted portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer that is among the artist's best-known works - were given to the family of Los Angeles resident Maria Altmann, nearly 70 years after they were looted by the Nazis.
The works, with an estimated value of US$300 million will be on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art until June 30.
That case was linked to the legal battle over "Amalie Zuckerkandl," with some of the same people laying claim to the artworks in both cases. Still, they were different enough to be decided separately. http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Briefs/8429.htm