Austrian Jewish leader calls for closure of Vienna's Leopold Museum

EJP 26 February 2008

VIENNA (EJP)--- The head of Vienna’s Jewish Community, Ariel Muzicant, has called for the closure of the Leopold Museum in Vienna's Museums area pending amendment of the law on return of stolen art, the daily Wiener Zeitung reported.  

Muzicant, who is president of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (IKG), made the call to protest the presence of 14 paintings by artist Albin Egger-Lienz on exhibit at the museum as part of the 140th anniversary of the birth of the Austrian expressionist.

The Jewish community is demanding restitution of the paintings stolen by the Nazis as Austria prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany in 1938, on March 13.
Muzicant said that museum director Rudolf Leopold is an expert on Egger-Lienz and knows “very well” which paintings were stolen from their rightful owners.
Muzicant added that the presence of the paintings in the exhibit amounts to "ridicule of victims" of the Nazis.
He claims that the Austrian law on restitution of stolen art applies to the museum since the state owns it.
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