Austria may have lost the ownership of five Art Nouveau masterpieces in a prolonged legal battle – but they are to stay in the country. A court has ordered the return of the paintings by Gustav Klimt, one of the nation’s most celebrated artists, to Maria Altmann.She has made clear she hopes to keep the works in her native land. “I would like to keep the two portraits in Austria,” she said. “I would like the landscape paintings, whoever buys them, to be seen in a museum and not go to private buyers.” Altmann is the heir of their Jewish former owner who fled the country under the Nazis when the works were seized. The 89-year-old also escaped Hitler’s regime and now lives in the US. The legal dispute has lasted for seven years. The court’s decision paves the way for one of the largest post-war restitution settlements in Austria. Experts value the works, that include portraits of Altmann’s aunt Adele, at more than 100 million euros. Altmann’s uncle left everything in his will to his nephews and nieces. Maria Altmann is his only surviving heir.
Austria loses legal battle but artwork stays in country