France will return a Gustav Klimt masterpiece to its owner’s heirs more than 80 years after it was forced to sell it in the Nazi era, Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said on Monday.
The original owner, Nora Stiasny, from a well-known Austrian Jewish family, had to sell the painting. Rosiers sous les Arbres at an incredible price to survive financially after the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, Bachelot said.
She was deported to Poland in 1942 and died the same year.
The Nazi-sympathetic art dealer kept it until his death in the 1960s and France, unaware of its history, finally bought it at auction for the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in 1980, the minister added.
“This decision to return an important work of art from public collections illustrates our commitment to justice and reparation for looted families,” Bachelot said.
Stiasny had inherited the painting from his uncle, Austrian industrialist and art collector Viktor Zuckerkandl, who bought the work in 1911, Bachelot said.