Maria Altmann was in her ‘80s when she entered into a legal battle with the Austrian government in order to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” and other Nazi-plundered Klimt paintings.
The artwork had been stolen from her family’s home after she escaped from Austria as a Jewish refugee of the Holocaust during World War II. Never certain she would even live to see a verdict, Altmann’s fight wasn’t about money or revenge. According to her, she simply wanted to preserve the truth of what had happened to her family.
So the history goes, the paintings in question were originally confiscated by Nazi authorities from Altmann’s uncle, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, and acquired by the state of Austria following German occupation. When Altmann began her fight, in the late 1990s, the portrait of Bloch-Bauer’s wife Adele had already made its way to the Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, where it was known by a colloquial moniker, “Women in Gold,” to obscure the subject’s Jewish heritage.
Shrouded in mystery until Altmann spoke out, the painting had come to be known as Austria’s “Mona Lisa.” Read on here.