Woman in Gold Paints Picture of Art Stolen by Nazis

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Art Stolen by Nazi Forces Not Returned to Rightful Owners

Finding out who is the rightful owner of a painting stolen during the Nazi regime is not always an easy task.

Some works were legitimately sold in order to raise funds. Others were stolen right off the homeowner’s, mostly Jews, walls.

The film, Woman In Gold, is a true story of one such painting and the efforts to relaim it by a survivor, portrayed by the very talented Dame Helen Mirren.

This masterpiece is properly titled Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, but also called The Woman in Gold, largely to disguise the ethnicity of the woman in the portrait.  Gustav Klimt created two different portraits of this woman in Vienna. This work is embellished with lots of gold leaf, is from his “golden phase.”

Woman In Gold is the remarkable true story of a woman who overcame great odds with the help of an improbably young lawyer, and righted a wrong that had stood for decades. Sixty years after fleeing Vienna during World War II, Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish woman, begins a journey to reclaim family possessions seized by the Nazis. Among them is Gustav Klimt’s famous painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer I, a portrait of her beloved Aunt Adele, which has become a national treasure: an Austrian Mona Lisa.

Maria discovers a letter in her late sister’s possessions concerning unsuccessful attempts to recover five Klimt paintings which had belonged to her family, all of which now hang in Austria’s famous Belvedere Gallery. Believing she has a case for restitution and with a repressed desire for retribution stirring, she seeks advice from a young lawyer Randy Schoenberg, the son of fellow Austrian immigrants.

Together, Maria and Randy embark upon a lengthy legal battle, taking them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Learn more about this painting and the movie.

Painting by Gustav Klimt, 1907

Film by The Weinstein’s Company, 2015

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