The non-profit Gustav Klimt | Wien 1900-Private Foundation (Klimt Foundation) was founded with the aim of preserving an eminent collection of Klimt paintings and archival material for Austria, and to exhibit the works in Austria and abroad. In this context, provenance research is firmly enshrined in the foundation’s charter. Since the foundation was established in September 2013, the directors have continuously commissioned notable provenance researchers to compile provenance dossiers on the artworks comprised in the collection.
With regards the work “Portrait of Gertrud Loew”, the compiled dossier was submitted to a panel of legal experts, comparable to Austria’s Federal Art Restitution Commission, headed by Univ. Prof. Dr. Clemens Jabloner, and an out-of-court settlement with the heirs of Gertrud Felsövanyi was reached.
Currently, provenance research into all paintings brought into the foundation in 2013 has largely been finalized. A further research undertaking the foundation will be focusing on in the coming years is the reconstruction of Gustav Ucicky’s original art collection.
2015: Provenance research into the work “Portrait of Gertrud Loew (Gertrud
The Klimt Foundation
tasked Mag. Dr. Sonja Niederacher with researching the origins of the painting
“Portrait of Gertrud Loew (Gertrud Felsövanyi)”, while the Felsövanyi family
commissioned Mag. Ruth Pleyer to conduct research into the work. Working
closely together, the two researchers compiled a joint dossier which they
submitted in April 2014 to an independent panel of legal experts. Their expert
opinion was published in September 2014, stating that while the particulars of
the sale of the artwork could not be reconstructed, it is to be presumed that
the painting was purchased by Gustav Ucicky during the Nazi era. The panel
found that the painting would have to be restituted were the Austrian Federal Art
Restitution Law to apply. In the autumn of 2014 the Klimt Foundation, as a
private institution and in keeping with its charter, came to a voluntary and
balanced, just and fair solution with the Felsövanyi family in accordance with
the Washington Principles of 3rd Dec. 1998. Subsequently, a request for permission to export
the painting was submitted with the Federal Chancellery and the permit legally
granted on 29th May 2015. At the express wish of both parties, the
painting was presented in the meantime in the exhibition “Ways to Modernism. Josef
Hoffmann, Adolf Loos, and Their Impact” shown at the MAK – Museum of Applied
Arts Vienna held from 17th Dec. 2014 to 19th April 2015.
At the heirs’ request, the work was then auctioned outside of Austria (24th June 2015, Sotheby’s
London). Additionally, five Klimt drawings, on which
provenance research has not yet reached a definitive verdict, were also
assigned to the Felsövanyi family.