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It could be worth more than half a billion kroner – E24

It could be worth more than half a billion kroner – E24

Big sums are expected when a painting by Gustav Klimt goes up for auction on Wednesday, although ownership is unclear.

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«Photo by Fraulein Lieser» – Portrait of Miss Lesser – commissioned by a wealthy Jewish family. Klimt painted it in 1917, a year before his death at the age of 55.

The only evidence of the existence of the incomplete portrait of a dark-haired woman from the Lesser family is a black-and-white photograph taken in 1925 in connection with a planned exhibition in Vienna.

And now it has resurfaced this year when auction house Im Kinsky announced it is up for sale.

30-50 million euros

– No one expected that this important painting, which had been missing for 100 years, would reappear again, says Im Kinski expert Claudia Morth-Gassi to AFP.

The auction house estimates the value at between 30 and 50 million euros, but Klimt works have fetched higher prices than those sold at auctions recently.

50 million euros corresponds to 587 million Norwegian krone at today's exchange rate.

The original owner, Lili Lesser, was deported from Vienna in 1942 and died in Auschwitz in 1943. She is said to have left the picture to one of her employees before her death. It later appeared at a Nazi-era German art dealer. The daughter inherited it, before passing it on to her distant relatives upon her death.

He gets a share of the sale price

None of Lesser's heirs who survived the war, and who live today in the United States, have claimed the Klimt painting – although they have been told it has been restored. Some of them traveled to see the picture and signed an agreement with the current owners giving them a share of the amount the picture brings, according to what was stated in the report. Art newspaper.

The auction house claims that no evidence has been found that the work was stolen or illegally seized by the Nazis. However, some experts believe that the date of ownership of Klimt's work, so-called Source should have been investigated better.

Im Kinski also did not take the opportunity to show it in the United States, according to Agence France-Presse, for fear that it might be blocked there, which is what happened in the past with other works with Austrian owners.