*Exhibition Planned for Los Angeles

Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) (03/16/2006)

The five Klimt paintings were removed on Tuesday from Belvedere

According to the Austrian Gallery Belvedere, the five Klimt paintings, which have been returned to the heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family, were picked up by a shipping company on Tuesday.

They are currently being transported to the United States and will be on display shortly at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Decision Reached in January
The paintings involve Adele Bloch-Bauer I, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, Apfelbaum, Buchenwald/Birkenwald and Häuser in Unterach am Attersee. The legal dispute between the claimants and the Republic of Austria lasted for years. It was decided in January in favor of Maria Altmann and other heirs.
Altmann: Deadline for Purchase Extended
In mid-February, Altmann explained that the heirs which include herself and Francis Gutmann, Trevor Mantle, George Bentley and Nelly Auersperg had again extended the deadline for potential Austrian buyers to purchase one or more of the paintings.

According to Ms. Altmann it had been Ms. Auersperg who had strongly urged that the paintings not leave Vienna on March 1 as planned but remain in Vienna until the end of March.

Future Remains Undecided
Despite the planned departure of the paintings, the decision as to their future has not yet been made, emphasized Altmann’s lawyer, E. Randol Schoenberg.

We have concentrated all our efforts on shipping the paintings involving complicated issues like packing and insurance, said Schoenberg. For that reason we still haven’t had any time for further discussion over what will finally happen with the paintings.

Efforts Toward a Purchase Continue
The Viennese gallery owner, John Sailer, who started an initiative for a private Austrian cultural foundation emphasized: Our efforts toward purchasing one or more of the paintings, particularly one of the two Bloch-Bauer portraits, will continue.

Sailer: Positive Talks
He had already conducted some very positive talks with banks and firms, said Sailer, despite having had neither a definitive answer nor a list of names.

Even if there is no unlimited time-frame for purchase, he estimates that based upon his conversations with Schoenberg, no immediate decision of a purchase by a third party or of an auction of the paintings is in the offing.

Storming the Doors of the Belvedere
Beginning February, thousands of visitors took advantage of visiting the Belvedere in order to pay their last respects to the five paintings. The Austrian Gallery has never received such record visits requiring that the crowd be admitted in separate groups. After that, the paintings were taken off the walls and examined by restorers. Then they were packed professionally.

Decision by the Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers decided that Austria would not purchase any of the Klimt paintings under question. The Republic sees no possibility of mustering up 300 million dollars, the estimated price for all of the paintings, confirmed Minister Elisabeth Gehrer (ÖVP). Diverse attempts by third parties to buy back the paintings have, until now, not been successful.

*Since the time this article was written, the five Klimt paintings have arrived in Los Angeles.