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Nazi-looted Klimt sells for $40M

A Nazi-looted painting that was returned to a Montreal family after being found in the collection of an Austrian museum has sold for more than $40 million US at an auction in New York.

Montreal man only descendant of owners

A Nazi-looted Gustav Klimt painting has sold for more than $40M US at an auction in New York, CBC's David Common reports 2:37

A Nazi-looted painting that was returned to a Montreal family after being found in the collection of an Austrian museum has sold for more than $40 million US at an auction in New York. 

The Gustav Klimt painting Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee) sold for $40,402, 500 Wednesday. The painting had been valued at $25 million by Sotheby's auction house.

It is not known who purchased the painting.

It was returned in July to 83-year-old Georges Jorisch of Montreal, a retired camera-store owner and grandson of Amalie Redlich, the Austrian Jew who once owned it.

Klimt painted the peaceful lake scene in 1915 in the place where he usually spent his summers. He sold the painting 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 Lodz, Poland, by the Nazis and never heard from again. The Gestapo seized her collection and the Klimt resurfaced three years later in the collection of the Landesgalerie Salzburg. It later moved to the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art.  

Jorisch has reached an agreement to split the proceeds of the sale of the painting with the Salzburg museum.

"Klimt's landscapes are now considered to be one of the great icons of modern art," Simon Shaw, Sotheby's New York head of impressionist and modern art, told Reuters. "They are one of the most recognizable images and their appeal is truly a global one."

The Salzburg city government struck a 2002 accord struck with Jewish organizations to return assets stolen by the Nazis, in the wake of a 1998 restitution law by Austria.

Gustav Klimt's Litzlberg am Attersee was expected to draw at least $25 million US at auction, but sold for more than $40 million. (Museum der Moderne Salzburg/Associated Press )