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Gustav Klimt / “Roses under trees”: BMKÖS statement on France’s restitution recommendation

The BMKÖS sees the recommendation of the French authorities as confirming the legal view of the Art Restitution Advisory Board from 2017/2018.

Vienna (OTS) The Federal Ministry of Art, Culture, Public Service and Sport has taken the decision of the French Ministry of Culture to initiate the process of returning the Klimt painting “Roses under trees” (“Rosiers sous les arbres”) from the Musée d’Orsay to the legal successors to initiate after Nora Stiasny, benevolently.

The recommendation was preceded by years of discussion, which could also have an impact on the earlier restitution of the Klimt painting “Apple Tree II”.

“The decision of the French authorities is the result of the excellent cooperation between the Austrian and French authorities,” said State Secretary for Art and Culture Andrea Mayer in an initial reaction. “The good working relationship between the Austrian and French experts is particularly evident when it comes to the exchange of information. Despite the different legal bases, a solution was found. I would like to thank all the experts for their work and commitment. “

As officially announced today, the one at the French Ministry of Culture Mission de recherche et de restitution des biens culturels spoliés entre 1933 et 1945 (MRRC) came to the conclusion that “Rosiers sous les arbres” should be restituted.

The heirs of Nora Stiasny, persecuted as a Jew under National Socialism, had already been awarded another Klimt painting by the Republic in 2001 – “Apple Tree II” from the Belvedere. However, the Austrian Art Restitution Advisory Board in 2017 came to the conclusion that this restitution was confused. The French decision now confirms this view. What effects the French decision has on any claims against the heirs according to Nora Stiasny will have to be examined in any case.

Background information on “Apple Tree II”

The long history of the provenance of the oil painting Apple tree II von Gustav Klimt has been accompanying the Austrian art restitution for over 20 years. On October 10, 2000, the Art Restitution Advisory Board unanimously recommended the return of the painting, which had been donated to the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in 1961 after Gustav Ucicky’s death. Should be transferred Apple tree II accordingly to the legal successors after Nora Stiasny, a daughter of Amalie and Otto Zuckerkandl, who was persecuted as a Jew after the “Anschluss” of Austria. In 1942 she and her mother were deported to the Izbica ghetto in the Lublin district and probably murdered there or in the Belzec extermination camp; In 1947 she was pronounced dead.

In 1938, due to persecution, Nora Stiasny was forced to sell a painting called “Apple Tree”, which the Advisory Board considered in 2000 due to the knowledge available at the time Apple tree II in the Belvedere looked identically. He qualified the sale of 1938 as an “emergency sale” and accordingly as a void legal transaction in accordance with the Invalidity Act of 1946 (Federal Law Gazette No. 106/1946).

However, the question of the assignment of the painting was already problematized in the resolution at that time. Therefore, when the painting was handed over in November 2001, the heirs submitted a declaration of liability with which they undertook, among other things, to return the painting to the federal government should it turn out that it was not the same as the painting owned by Nora Stiasny in 1938 is identical.

Renewed doubts about the assignment of the provenance of Apple tree II were collected in 2015 by a legal successor of the Lederer family, who were also persecuted under National Socialism. The Commission for Provenance Research therefore created a new dossier on the current state of research. In 2017, the Art Restitution Advisory Board decided that Nora Stiasny’s ownership of the painting recommended for restoration in 2000 was “with a high degree of probability” to be excluded. Rather, it says “a high probability that […] the painting by Gustav Klimt, now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Roses under trees […]is to be regarded as the former property of Nora Stiasny. ”

The Art Restitution Advisory Board also stated that the painting handed over to the heirs to Nora Stiasny in November 2001 could be identical to a work from the Lederer Collection. Evidence can be provided for this, as well as for the assumption that there was a withdrawal due to Nazi persecution.

Inquiries & contact:

Federal Ministry for Art, Culture, Public Service and Sport
Mag. (FH) Michael Weiß
Press spokesman for the State Secretary for Art and Culture
+43 6648479043

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