Nazi-looted Klimt heads to auction

A Gustav Klimt painting that was recently returned to the Montreal-based family of its original owner, after having been looted by the Nazis in 1941, is to be sold at auction.

Montreal man only descendant of original owner

A Gustav Klimt painting that was recently returned to the Montreal-based family of its original owner, after having been looted by Nazis in 1941, is to be sold at auction.

Klimt's 1915 oil on canvas work Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee) was returned last week to 83-year-old Georges Jorisch by the Museum of Modern Art in Salzburg.

Jorisch is a retired camera store owner and grandson of Amalie Redlich, the Austrian Jew who once owned the peaceful lake scene. He has agreed to split the proceeds from the sale of the painting with the museum.

Earlier this year he reached a settlement with a European collector over another Klimt his grandmother once owned, Church in Cassone, Landscape With Cypresses.

Sotheby's, which will auction Litzlberg am Attersee  on Nov. 2 in New York, estimates it could sell for more than $25 million US.

The painting initially belonged to Austrian iron magnate Viktor Zuckerkandl and his wife, Paula, who were art collectors. They died childless and part of their collection, including Litzlberg am Attersee, passed to Viktor's sister, Amalie Redlich.

In 1941, Redlich was deported to Poland by the Nazis and never heard from again. Her collection was seized by the Gestapo and sold off. Three years later, the Klimt resurfaced in the collection of the Landesgalerie Salzburg and later moved to the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art.

Under a 1998 restitution law, Austria has returned thousands of paintings confiscated by the Nazis to the descendants of their former owners. Jorisch's lawyer said the Salzberg museum was very open in its discussions over Litzlberg am Attersee.

Klimt, who lived 1862 to 1918, was one of Austria's most celebrated modernist painters and a leading light of the Art Nouveau movement.

His Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which also passed through Nazi hands, sold for $135 million US in a private sale in 2006.