Legal Law

Last Klimt painting returned to Austria after 100 years

The presumably last largely completed painting by Gustav Klimt, The Lady with a Fan, was no longer on view in Austria for 100 years. The work will now stop at the Belvedere for a year, where from March 25th it will be the main attraction of the new show “Lady with a Fan. Gustav Klimt’s Last Works”. In return, politicians had to guarantee the anonymous foreign owner temporary immunity for the portrait.

The background: The “Lady” was last seen in Austria in 1920 in an exhibition in what is now the MAK and finally came into the possession of Rudolf Leopold in the 1950s. Compared to the “Standard”, collector widow Elisabeth Leopold recently confirmed that Rudolf Leopold later sold the portrait to cover debts “through a dealer in Vienna”.

In any case, in 1994 the Klimt painting was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York for 9.3 million euros. At the time, the authorities also investigated the alleged lack of an export license, but discontinued the proceedings because the persons involved could not be traced. Nevertheless, this question hovered like a sword of Damocles over a possible presentation in Austria.

In order to be able to bring the picture to Austria under these circumstances, the republic granted immunity for the duration of the exhibition. “I am pleased that by granting temporary immunity, the federal government can make a contribution to ensuring that this picture can be exhibited again in Austria after such a long time and thus made accessible to a large audience,” emphasized State Secretary for Culture Andrea Mayer (Greens) in a broadcast.

And Belvedere General Director Stella Rollig let her joy run wild: “It is a very special moment of happiness for me to be able to show this mysterious painting by Gustav Klimt in the Belvedere. ‘Lady with a Fan’ is one of Klimt’s last works with a special nimbus . “

The work, which is embedded in an exhibition, can now be seen until February 13, 2022. The show “Lady with a Fan. Gustav Klimt’s Last Works” is divided into two parts. First, the guest painting will be shown in the context of other unfinished Klimt paintings, before a new compilation will follow at the beginning of October, focusing on the influence of Asian art on Klimt’s late work.


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