France returning Gustav Klint painting to family of its pre-war owner

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By Euronews
Klimt’s Rosebushes Under the Trees at the Museée d’Orsay
Klimt’s Rosebushes Under the Trees at the Museée d’Orsay   -  Copyright  AP

France says it will return the only painting in its national collection by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt to the family of its pre-war owner.

Nora Stiasny, a Holocaust victim, was forced by the Nazis to sell the painting to an art dealer in August 1938, after Hitler's army annexed Austria.

The French government said the oil painting is just one of scores of hanging heirlooms from that period that remain unclaimed.

This particular painting is Klimt's 1905 masterpiece "Rosebushes Under the Trees". It has been in the Musée d’Orsay museum in Paris for decades.

French authorities say it only recently came to light as plundered art.

French Culture Minister, Roselyne Bachelot, said the decision to let it go was a difficult one.

"It means removing from the national collections a masterpiece which is, moreover, the only painting by Gustav Klimt that France owned. But this decision is necessary and unavoidable. 83 years after Nora Stiasny was forced to sell this painting, it is the accomplishment of an act of justice," she said.

Thousands of artworks looted by the Nazis across Europe ended up in French museums. Paris has stepped up efforts in recent years to return them to their true owners.