Austria criticized after wrong Klimt was returned to wrong family
Gustav Klimt's Apple Tree II was one of the 300 works included in the Gustav Klimt exhibition at the Leopold Museum in Vienna (until November 4), which marked the centennial of the beloved Austrian artist’s death. The artwork was removed the day after the press preview because, according to the museum statement, "it is currently the subject of a dispute between several people and institutions, which has not yet been resolved".
It was loaned by the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, established by the luxury goods mogul and art collector Bernard Arnault.
by the Republic of Austria 18 years ago, it has recently transpired that a mistake
was made with the decision to return this work."
The Art Newspaper
In the early 2000s, the Austrian Art Restitution Advisory Board ruled that Apple Tree II had belonged to Nora Stiasny and restituted it to an heir — Hermine Müller-Hoffmann. Apple Tree II was eventually put up for sale and acquired by the Fondation Louis Vuitton for about $ 22.5 million. And until the institution rented a picture of the Leopold Museum for the exhibition, the current owner remained anonymous.
In 2015, the Commission for Provenance Research found that the work owned by Nora Stiasny was actually Roses under Trees. An heir of the Lederer family is now exploring heirs to recover Apple Tree II.
Left: Gustav Klimt, Apple Tree II, 1916. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Title illustration: Gustav Klimt, Rosebushes under Trees, 1905, in the Musée d’Orsay; Apple Tree II, 1916, owned by Bernard Arnault and his Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris.