Gustav Klimt was born during a critical juncture in European history, as the once-dominant Austrian Empire was about to collapse. Being a part of the Vienna Secessionist artistic movement, he was greatly impacted by the Art Nouveau style. The most well-known pieces are those from his later years, before his 1918 death from the Spanish flu. This "Golden Phase" was dominated by vibrant, slightly abstracted portraits gilded in gold.
The faces of affluent Vienna were captured in Klimt's paintings, notably that of Fraulein Lieser, a wealthy Austrian Jewish family. When the public last saw this image of the woman with soft eyes and dark hair in 1926, it was believed to have been destroyed in the atrocities that occurred in Europe during World War II.Nevertheless, in a startling turn of events, the painting has surfaced several decades later and is destined for exhibition and auction. Nazi Europe engaged in widespread looting sprees alongside acts of violence against Jewish people. After the war, decades have been modern efforts to locate and return priceless artwork owned by Jewish families to their descendants or relatives. Other priceless pieces were destroyed during the war's bombardment and fighting. That's what art historians have long assumed happened to Fraulein Lieser's portrait. Kinsky's Ernst Ploil
The Auction House where the work will be sold told the BBC: “The painting is described as lost in all catalogues raisonnés (comprehensive lists of Klimt's work). In our circles, ‘lost' means probably destroyed, probably burnt during the war, but in any case no longer in existence; it was not to be expected that it would ever reappear. We took an active approach and not only researched the Lieser family as potential restitution claimants, but we also approached potential representatives based on our experience from previous restitution proceedings.”
There is currently no proof that the painting was taken. It was purchased by its current owners in the 1960s. They will benefit from the sale, along with Lieser family members. The auction, which is scheduled for April, is expected to be spectacular and could fetch as much as $54 million. This year, a record-breaking $108.4 million was paid for an additional Klimt portrait, which set a new standard for European art auctions. These astounding costs reflect Klimt's work's enormous influence and enduring appeal.