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Nazi-looted Klimt painting sold to New York gallery

The famous painting by Gustav Klimt that was recently at the centre of a Nazi-looted art battle has been purchased by a New York gallery, reportedly for a record price.

Afamous painting by Gustav Klimt that was recently at the centre of a battle over Nazi-looted art has been purchased by a New York gallery, reportedly for a record price.

Maria Altmann won a court battle in January for ownership of the gold-encrusted portrait of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. Altmannand her family sold the piece.

Altmann'sattorney said Sunday that the work was purchased bythe Neue Gallerie, a New York art venue focused onGerman and Austrian art that was co-foundedby the cosmetics company magnate Ronald S. Lauder.

The New York Times has reported that the portrait went for $135 million US, which would significantly surpass the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a painting: Pablo Picasso's Boy With a Pipe, sold for $104.1 million US in 2004.

"This is our Mona Lisa," Lauder said of the painting in an interview with the Times. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition."

Over the past seven years, Altmann, 90, had battled the Austrian government to recover the painting, entitled Adele Bloch-Bauer I and held at Vienna's Belvedere Gallery.

She was a young newlywed in 1938 when she watched the Nazis steal the portrait and four other Klimt works from her aunt and uncle's home.

For years, she had lost her claim on the paintings until, in 1998, Austria passed a law that required its museums to return Nazi-looted art.

Afterthe long legal battle, the Austrian government agreed earlier this year to return all five looted paintings to Altmann and her family.

Since April, they have been on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

"It was important for the heirs and for my aunt Adele that her work be displayed in a museum," Altmann said in a statement released by the family.

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