Austria 'may return looted art'

BBC 6 April 2006

Culture Minister Elisabeth Gehrer said a total of 6,292 works were earmarked for return to their rightful owners or heirs - most of whom were Jewish.

Austria has been returning works to their rightful owners under the 1998 culture property restitution law.
In January, a court ordered the return of five paintings by Gustav Klimt.

Requests rejected

The recommendations made by the advisory panel are usually followed by the Austrian government, Ms Gehrer added.

Details of most of the artworks, including paintings and sculptures, have not been released.

Ms Gehrer said only a handful of requests for returns made up to 31 March had been rejected, but one of those cases involved a pair of figurines by Belgian symbolist sculptor George Minne.

The return of the Minne figurines was requested by heirs to Maria Altmann, the California woman who regained custody of five Klimts, worth at least $100m (£59.6m).

They are currently in the possession of Vienna's prestigious Austrian Gallery Belvedere - the same museum that was forced by a court order to return the Klimts to Ms Altmann.

Ms Gehrer said a website would be set up by the end of the year to help owners track down works they claim were confiscated by the Nazi regime.

Many of the works being returned to their pre-war owners made their way into state-run museums or art collections before, during or just after the war.
© website copyright Central Registry 2023