France to Return Klimt Painting Sold Under Duress During Nazi Era to Heirs of Jewish Family
i24 News – France announced that it is to return a painting by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt to the heirs of the Jewish family that was forced to sell it by the Nazis, reported the BBC.
At an event at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said that restoring the painting to its rightful owners was “an ardent obligation.”
“The recent opening of archives in Austria and the work of historians have made it possible to trace precisely the origin of this painting, long hidden by those who have erased all traces of this affair,” she added.
The French state bought the artwork, the only Klimt in its possession, in 1980 and was reportedly unaware of its provenance.
The pre-war owner of “Rosiers sous les Arbres” (Rose Bushes Under the Trees) was Nora Stiasny, from a well-known Austrian Jewish family. She had inherited it from her uncle, the Austrian industrialist and art collector Viktor Zuckerkandl, according to the BBC.
As conditions worsened, Stiasny, who sold the painting in an attempt to survive, was forced to so at a knock-down price as the Nazi annexation of Austria occurred in 1938.
Stiasny was deported to Poland in 1942, where she is thought to have died in either the Izbica ghetto or the Belzec extermination camp.
The beneficiaries are the descendants of Stiasny’s sister, Hermine Müller-Hofmann, who escaped the Holocaust in Bavaria.