In the realm of art, rediscovering a lost masterpiece is a rare and exhilarating event that captivates both art enthusiasts and scholars alike. A painting by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, thought to have been lost for a century, has been rediscovered in Vienna.
The Portrait of Fraulein Lieser, originally owned by a Jewish family in Austria, was last publicly seen in 1925. Its whereabouts remained unclear until now, with the current owners' family having possessed the artwork since the 1960s.
Who Are The Owners?
The Lieser family, prosperous Jewish industrialists in Vienna, originally owned the portrait. Ernst Ploil, co-Managing Director of Auction House im Kinsky, stated that there is no evidence suggesting the painting was looted or stolen before or during World War Two. The painting will now be auctioned off on behalf of the current owners and the legal successors of the Lieser family, in accordance with the Washington Principles—an international agreement for the return of Nazi-looted art to the original owners' descendants.
"We took an active approach and not only researched the Lieser family as potential restitution claimants, but we also approached potential representatives based on our experience from previous restitution proceedings." - Ernst Ploil, co-Managing Director of Auction House of Kinsky, BBCNews
How Will It Be Sold?
The painting, previously considered ‘lost’ in all comprehensive lists of Klimt's work, will be auctioned on April 24 by im Kinsky Auction House in Vienna. They value the painting at over £42 million ($54 million) and have deemed its rediscovery "a sensation."
Previous auction results for Gustav Klimt's final painting titled, ‘Lady with a Fan (Dame mit Fächer)’, realised a figure of £85.3m ($108.4m) making it the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction in Europe. The portrait of the unnamed woman which sold to a collector in Hong Kong, was said to still have been on an easel in Klimt's studio when the painter died in 1918.
What Happens Next?
Before the auction, the portrait will be showcased at various international locations, including the UK, Switzerland, Germany, and Hong Kong. Klimt's art has consistently commanded significant sums at auctions, and the rediscovery of this rare and valuable piece adds a remarkable chapter to the artist's legacy.
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