Austrians Refuse Klimt Restitution

VIENNA -- Gustav Klimt's murals, The Beethoven Frieze, should not be returned to the family of the original Jewish owners, an Austrian panel has decided.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will continue to visit this masterpiece in Austria.

The paintings were looted by the Nazis from the family of the Jewish industrialist August Lederer. They were returned after WII to the decedents, but as the members had emigrated to Switzerland they were unable to transport the works, as the Austrian government had placed an export ban on the masterpiece.

The heirs argued that the ban forced Lederer's son Erich to sell the work for next to nothing.

The decision against returning the masterpiece was announced on Friday by Clemens Jabloner, head of the Austrian Art Restitution Advisory Board, who said: "It is not the case that the export procedure was used as a tool to force Lederer into an agreement."

Heirs of the Lederer family stated that in 1972 Austrian officials negotiated that it would let him export his other returned artworks only if he sold the frieze to the state at a discount price.

Family lawyer Marc Weber said, 'The work was sold in 1973 for $750,000, half of its estimated worth at the time, according to a valuation by fine art auctioneer Christie's'.

In 2013 Lederer heirs filed a claim for the return of the frieze, following Austria's amended restitution laws which applies to property sold at a discounted rate because of export bans.

The Secession museum, where the frieze is housed said Mr Lederer voluntarily sold the artwork for $750,000 (£490,000; €680,000) and added that the Austrian government paid for the frieze's restoration as it had fallen into disrepair.

The mural is now worth at least £100,000,000 having increased considerably in value over the last 40 plus years.

1902 Exhibition

The Beethoven Frieze is considered one of Gustav Klimt's most celebrated works of art. It depicts Wagner's interpretation of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The Vienna Secession's fourteenth exhibition, dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven, was one of the movement's most widely attended and popular shows.

The Secessionists revealed their ideas about art, space, and experience through various artistic contributions paying tribute to the great composer.

A total of twenty-one artists participated in the exhibition.

Two of the most recognizable were Max Klinger, an honorary member of the Secession from Leipzeig, and Gustav Klimt, the Secession's president. Klinger's statue of Beethoven was the exhibition's centerpiece and, as such, was placed in the middle of the Secession House's main hall.

The Klimt masterpiece was painted directly on the wall for the 1902 Exhibition, and is considered one of the worlds most important high Art Nouveau creations.

The mural executed in bright colors with gold leaf inclusions was intended to be a temporary installation for the exhibition which occurred from April 15 - June 27, 1902.

Klimt's frieze was originally meant to supplement Klinger's piece, but it later became the more famous of the two, and one of Klimt's most recognizable works.

It was purchased in 1915 and carefully removed from the gallery walls to the home of the industrialist. Mr Lederer's art collection, including the the work in question, was seized by the Nazis in 1938.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video explores the Klimt frieze's importance to the Vienna Seccession.