Jewish family wants Austria to return Klimt 'national treasure' painting
A Jewish family is asking Austria to restitute the Beethoven Frieze, a painting by Gustav Klimt that is considered a national treasure, the family's lawyer confirmed Wednesday.
The National Socialists dispossessed the Lederer family in 1938 and took control of the large mural produced by the artist in 1902, according to the Secession gallery in Vienna, where the frieze is displayed.
The family's Zurich-based lawyer Marc Weber said he had filed a request for the painting at the Culture Ministry in Vienna on Tuesday.
After the war, Austria returned ownership of the artwork to the family, but did not allow it to be shipped out to Switzerland, to where family heir Erich Lederer had moved.
For that reason, Lederer decided to sell it again to the Republic of Austria.
The frieze is a key example of the Jugendstil art epoch. It is an allegorical depiction of Beethoven's 9th symphony.
Works by Klimt rank among the most valuable paintings in the world.
His portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer was sold for 135 million dollars in 2006, according to media reports.