Lost Klimt drawing found in Austria

Visitors stand on a suspended bridge, 12m above ground, to take a closer look at paintings by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt which adorn the arches of the mains staircase, on Feb 12, 2018.
Visitors stand on a suspended bridge, 12m above ground, to take a closer look at paintings by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt which adorn the arches of the mains staircase, on Feb 12, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

VIENNA (AFP) - A drawing by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, which disappeared from a museum collection, has been found in the effects of a recently deceased secretary, the authorities said on Tuesday (Feb 13).

The drawing Zwei Liegende (Two Reclining Figures) is one of four works by Klimt and fellow pioneer of Viennese Modernism Egon Schiele that have been at the centre of a drawn-out legal battle between the city of Linz and the heirs of artist and collector Olga Jaeger.

Jaeger had given the works to a museum in Linz on long-term loan in 1951.

But when her descendants asked for them back in 2006, they were nowhere to be found.

They took the city to court and after a long legal battle were awarded damages of €8.21 million (S$13.4 million).

Now city authorities say that the Klimt drawing has been tracked down.

A secretary took the work and hid it for years in a cupboard, before leaving instructions that it be returned to the city after her death.

From next month until May the drawing will be included in of one of the dozens of exhibitions being organised in Austria to commemorate the centenary of the deaths of Klimt and Schiele.

It will then be returned to Jaeger's descendants as long as they forfeit the compensation awarded for the work.

The symbolist painter Klimt is known for works celebrating the female body, such as The Kiss, his early 20th century painting of oil and gold leaf depicting an embracing couple whose bodies form a near-perfect rectangle.