Gustav Klimt Painting Resurfaces After a Century


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A painting by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt that reappeared after nearly a century will be sold at auction in Vienna today, despite questions surrounding its provenance.

The Unfinished Portrait: “Portrait of Miss Lieser”

The Unfinished Portrait:

“Bildnis Fraeulein Lieser” (“Portrait of Miss Lieser”) was commissioned by a wealthy Jewish industrialist’s family and painted by Klimt in 1917 – a year before his death. The unfinished portrait of a dark-haired woman was likely last seen at a Viennese exhibition in 1925.

The auction house estimates its value at up to €50 million, but Klimt works have sold for higher prices at recent auctions.

Mystery surrounds the identity of the model. It is believed to be one of the daughters of either Adolf or Justus Lieser, who were brothers from a wealthy family of Jewish industrialists.

  • The first catalogue dedicated to Klimt, dating from the 1960s, states it is Adolf Lieser’s niece, Margarethe.
  • The im Kinsky auction house in Vienna suggests the painting could depict one of the two daughters of Justus Lieser and his wife Henriette (Lilly) – Helene and Annie.

Provenance Controversy

Provenance Controversy

Before her death, Lilly Lieser seems to have entrusted the painting to a member of her staff, Austrian daily Der Standard found based on correspondence in an Austrian museum.

Im Kinsky, which specializes in restitution procedures, insists it has found no evidence that the work was stolen or unlawfully seized. However, some experts have called for a more in-depth investigation of the work’s provenance.

Details Information
Recent Auction Record Last June, Klimt’s final work “Dame mit Fächer” (“Lady with a Fan”) broke the European auction record by selling for £74 million (€86 million) at Sotheby’s in London.

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