Painting Once Looted by Nazis Fetches $40 Million

1915 artwork by Gustav Klimt depicts Austrian landscape

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Nov 3, 2011  |  Updated 1:39 PM EDT
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Painting Once Looted by Nazis Fetches $40 Million

AP

This undated photo provided by the Museum der Moderne Salzburg shows the painting "Litzlberg am Attersee" by famed Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

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A masterpiece looted by Nazis and only recently returned to its rightful owner fetched $40 million at an auction at Sotheby's today.

Gustav Klimt's 1915 "Litzlberg on the Attersee," which depicts homes on a lake in western Austria, was originally owned by Austrian iron magnate Viktor Zuckerkandl before being handed down to his sister, Amalie Redlich, in 1927. She was deported to Lodz in 1941 and it is unknown what became of her. Her art collection was stolen by the Nazis and sold, according to the BBC.

The painting was returned to the owner's grandson, Georges Jorisch, 83, by Salzburg's Museum of Modern Arts in July.

The painting had been expected to sell for $18 million to $25 million. A portion of the proceeds of the sale will be donated to the Salzburg museum for the construction of an extension to be named for Amalie Redlich.

The New York Times speculated that the painting's tragic history, as well as the rarity of a Klimt Austrian landscape, contribued to the heated bidding that drove the price up.

The buyer's identity was not disclosed.

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