A 1915 painting by Gustav Klimt fetched $40.4 million (£25.4 million) at an auction in New York on Wednesday. The landscape had been looted by the Nazis during the second World War, and was only recently returned to the owner’s grandson.
George Jorisch, the 83 year old grandson of the original owner, received the painting entitled Litzlberg on the Attersee from Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Arts in July.
The painting was originally owned by Austrian iron mogul Viktor Zuckerkandl, who passed the painting to his sister, Amaile Redlich. She was then deported in 1941, while her art collection was seized by the Nazis.
Sotheby’s ‘roars back’
David Norman of auctioneers Sotheby’s said that the market has “really roared back” for elite art dealers, as records were also set for numerous other modern and impressionist artists.
French impressionst Gustave Caillebotte’s work, Le pot d’Argenteuil et la Seine, was auctioned off for $9.3 million (£5.8 million), while Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka’s Le reve sold for $8.5 million (£5.3 million).
Though it was expected to be the highlight of the Sotheby’s New York auction, a Henri Matisse bronze was withdrawn after being privately sold on Tuesday for an undisclosed sum. Three other works in the Matisse Nu de dos series were sold with it. Each were expected to make separate sales of $30 million (£18.9 million) each.
The full auction fetched a spectacular $200 million (£125.6 million), with 57 out of 70 lots being sold.
Rival fares worse
Rival auction house Christie’s fared much worse at their art expo the night before, as a number of top lots failed to sell.
The Christie’s impressionist and modern art auction expected to net around $35 million (£25.4 million) for a Degas sculpture of a teenage dancer, but the bidding stopped at $18 milion and the piece was not sold.
While the Sotheby’s spokesperson said that marked had come roaring back, Christie’s head of impressionist and modern art said that the art collection market was “at its most selective.”
The Degas sculpture, La Petite Danseuse de Quartorze Ans, known as Little Dancer, was the only sculpture the artist ever exhibited in his lifetime and its failure to sell was a huge shock and disappointment to art experts.
A pair of Picasso portraits, expected to sell for $12 million and $18 million (£8.7m, £13m) also failed to reach expectations and were not sold.