Sotheby’s to Auction Rare Gustav Klimt Painting with Newly-Resolved Provenance

Detail of Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Gertud Lowe (1902).
Detail of Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Gertud Lowe (1902), fetched $39 Million at Sotheby's.
Photo: Sotheby's.
Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Gertud Lowe (1902).

Gustav Klimt, Portrait of Gertud Lowe (1902).
Photo: courtesy Klimt Foundation

A Gustav Klimt painting with a past as delicate as the handling of its oil paint has had its provenance settled, and will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on June 24 in New York, the New York Times reports.

The portrait is estimated to fetch $18 – 25 million after a much reported restitution battle (see Nazi-Looted Klimt Painting May Be Sold by Subject’s Granddaughter).

Klimt painted Portrait of Gertrud Loew in 1902 for the subject’s father, Dr. Anton Loew. In 1939, Gertrud, then the widow of Elemer Baruch von Felsöványi, fled Vienna for the United States and the painting found itself in the hands of Klimt’s son Gustav Ucicky, who died in 1961. His wife Ursula started the Klimt Foundation in 2013, and vowed to resolve the provenance of the collection of her late husband (see Helen Mirren Puts Up Fight of a Lifetime for Gustav Klimt Portrait).

Gustav Klimt's <i>Adele Bloch-Bauer II</i> (1912), also had a muddled provenance.  <br> Photo: Jonathan Muzikar</br>

Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912), also had a muddled provenance.
Photo: Jonathan Muzikar

“While the particulars surrounding the sale of the Klimt portrait Portrait of Gertrud Loew can no longer be reconstructed, the independent provenance researchers’ report suggests that the painting was purchased by Gustav Ucicky in Austria during the Nazi era,” concluded the team of legal experts investigating the portrait last year.

“It can be positively excluded that the painting was restituted to Gertrud Felsöványi or her legal heirs following the end of the Nazi regime,” the report stated (see Nazi-Looted Gustav Klimt Portrait Debuts at MoMA).

The portrait was returned to the Felsöványis, along with five drawings that also originally belonged to the family. Both the heirs and the Klimt Foundation have agreed to auction the painting and share the profits.

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