Workers hang Kirche in Cassone (Church in Cassone) by Gustav Klimt at Sotheby's auction house in London on Jan. 12. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)
A Gustav Klimt landscape at the centre of a case of Nazi-looted art involving a Montreal man goes on the auction block in London, England, on Wednesday.
Georges Jorisch, born in Vienna in 1928 and now a retired camera shop manager, will get a share of the proceeds from the sale of Klimt's Kirche in Cassone (Church in Cassone).
Sotheby's estimates the painting, a rare landscape by Klimt, could go for $19 million to $29 million Cdn.
A price at the high end of the spectrum seems assured after a Picasso painting Tête de femme (Jacqueline), was sold for $13.7 million on Tuesday evening at Christie's auction house in London. That was double the presale estimate for the 1963 painting.
Jorisch, a descendant of a wealthy Jewish family that once owned the Klimt, has reached a settlement agreement with the current owner of the work, who bought it in good faith without knowing its past, Sotheby's said. The current owner wishes to remain anonymous.
The painting in greens, blues and orange once hung in the Vienna home of Jorisch's grandmother. Her brother, Viktor Zuckerkandl, a steel magnate deeply involved in Vienna's art scene, had bought it directly from the artist.
She put the painting in storage during the war, but it disappeared, possibly taken by Nazis, possibly by Soviet soldiers. She was deported to the Lodz ghetto in Poland with Jorisch's mother and never heard of again, while he and his father lived in hiding in Brussels.
Work changed hands
In 1950, Jorisch moved to Montreal and started a new life. His father sought out the paintings in storage, but the crates were empty.
The Klimt didn't resurface until 1962, and it changed hands several times before reappearing at a show in 2002-03.
Jorisch has been in discussions with the current owners for several years trying to reach a settlement, Sotheby's said.
There has been a wave of restitutions of Nazi-looted after over the past few years, as international dealers improved their investigations of the provenance of paintings and countries around the world established laws regarding works that had been stolen during the Holocaust.
Also to sell on Wednesday are a still life by Paul Cézanne that could sell for $25.4 million and sculpture by Alberto Giacometti that could sell for $30 million.