After Nazi Looting, Klimt Landscape Could Sell for $25 Million

Bloomberg 15 July 2011
By Katya Kazakina

"Litzlberg am Attersee" (1915) by Gustav Klimt. Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

A Gustav Klimt landscape whose provenance includes Nazi looting and murder, and finally restitution to an heir of the original owner, could fetch more than $25 million at auction this fall.

The 1915 oil-on-canvas “Litzlberg am Attersee” (Litzlberg on the Attersee) will highlight Sotheby’s (BID) evening Impressionist and modern art sale in New York on Nov. 2.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful painting,” said Jane Kallir, director of Galerie St. Etienne in Manhattan, which gave Klimt his first U.S. exhibition in 1959. The estimate is “a conservative, very prudent starting point. I would not be surprised if it does considerably better.”

Earlier this month, the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg, Austria, returned the artwork to Georges Jorisch, the grandson of Amalie Redlich, a Jewish woman who owned it until she was deported to Poland by the Nazis in 1941 and murdered. Her art collection was seized by the Gestapo and sold off.

In 1944, the Klimt appeared in the collection of the Landesgalerie Salzburg, now known as the Residenzgalerie, and later in the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art.

The painting initially belonged to Austrian iron magnate Viktor Zuckerkandl and his wife, Paula, who were art patrons. In 1927, part of their collection passed to Viktor’s family. “Litzlberg am Attersee” landed with Viktor’s sister, Jorisch’s grandmother.

Another Restitution

Another Klimt landscape once owned by the family, “Kirche in Cassone (Landschaft mit Zypressen)” (“Church in Cassone -- Landscape With Cypresses”), fetched 26.9 million pounds ($43.4 million) at Sotheby’s London in February 2010, setting a record for a landscape by the artist. The 1913 oil had a high estimate of 18 million pounds.

“The difference is that ‘Litzlberg’ has a lot of landscape and that to me is very enchanting,” Kallir said. “The church, the top four-fifths are buildings, they are solid. To my mind it’s a less lyrical painting.”

The priciest Klimt is a gold-splattered 1907 oil portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, for which cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder paid $135 million in 2006. It can be seen at the Neue Galerie in New York.

Jorisch will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of “Litzlberg am Attersee” to Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Art, to build an extension that will be named in his grandmother’s honor.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at
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