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France will return a painting by Gustave Klimt looted in Austria in 1938

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                The Musée d'Orsay will restore <em>Roses under the trees, </em>a painting by the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, to the beneficiaries of Nora Stiasny, who was despoiled in Vienna in 1938. The announcement was made on March 15 by the Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot.

                                    <p><em><span><span><span>With our correspondent in Vienna,</span></span></span></em>

Since a 1998 law, researchers work in federal museums across the country to trace the origin of works that are there and restore those that must be. The work of some has made it possible in recent years to retrace the journey of Roses under the trees.

Painted around 1905, the painting was purchased in 1911 by the great Austrian Jewish collector Viktor Zuckerkandl. In 1938, it belonged to his niece, Nora Stiasny, who, after the Anschluss, was forced to sell it at a ridiculous price. She will finally be deported and then murdered and it is therefore more than 80 years after that this painting will finally be returned to her beneficiaries.

A restitution that hides another

Nora Stiasny’s beneficiaries have already been restore a painting by Klimt in 2001, titled Pommiers II. Only, over the years, the researchers realized that it was a mistake. It was recognized in 2017 by the Austrian restitution commission: Pommiers II did not belong to Nora Stiasny.

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This painting has simply been confused with Roses under the trees. Apple trees II actually belonged to the Lederer family and today the beneficiaries claim it. Problem: meanwhile, those of Nora Stiasny have sold Pommiers II. Today, it is in the collection of the Louis Vuitton Foundation, confirmed the latter.

What solution today?

The Austrian state could in theory turn against its clients but probably will not do so, explains Alfred Noll, the lawyer for Nora Stiasny’s rights holders. Another solution should be preferred. The latter, according to him, would like to buy back this painting so that it can be returned to the right people.

However, according to Alfred Noll, negotiations have not yet started because the rights holders first wait to find their painting. Roses under the trees. But he says he is optimistic and believes that a solution can be found.

► To (re) listen: Grand Reportage – In Austria, restoring art to restore memory

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