Significant Restitutions

2006 – Klimt’s "Gold Portrait" of Adele Bloch-Bauer returned to 90-year-old heir

The painting is a masterpiece of Klimt’s gilded phase showing Adele Bloch-Bauer, a very cultivated Viennese woman who had her portrait done by the Austrian symbolist painter in 1907. Adele died in 1925 and the painting was donated to the Austrian National Gallery, as stated in her will. However, in March 1938, Hitler’s confiscation of works of art reached occupied Austria and the gallery handed its collections over to the Führer, including the Bloch-Bauers’ works of art.

Fifty years later, in 1998, having heard of the Nazi dispersal of her family’s art collection, Adele Bloch-Bauer’s grandniece, Maria Altmann, hired an attorney to investigate the Nazi theft of her family’s Klimt collection. Five paintings from the Austrian National Gallery were asked to be returned and after an eight-year legal battle, to everyone’s surprise, an Austrian mediation panel agreed to return Klimt’s portrait and other four paintings to 90-year-old Maria Altmann and other heirs.

On November 2006, Baron Ronald S. Lauder bought the portrait of Adele for $135 million. It is now on permanent display at Lauder's Neue Galerie in New York.