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Skepticism surrounds 'lost' Gustav Klimt piece

July 16, 2012|By David Ng
  • Gustav Klimt, in a 1912 photograph from the book "The Lady in Gold" by Anne Marie O'Connor.
Gustav Klimt, in a 1912 photograph from the book "The Lady in Gold"… (Moritz Nahr / Courtesy Maria…)

A recently found work attributed to Gustav Klimt is inspiring a good amount of skepticism in the art world regarding the authenticity of the piece. The ceiling painting, which depicts a cherub playing a trumpet, was recently rediscovered in a garage near the Austrian city of Linz, and was expected to head to auction.

Reports in the Austrian media attributed the work to Klimt. But some believe the work was actually created by Ernst Klimt, the brother of the famed Viennese artist. A report from Reuters said that Alfred Weidinger, an art historian and Klimt specialist, has recognized the painting as a piece by Ernst Klimt, and not even a significant one at that.

"It's definitely not an important painting, even for Ernst Klimt," Weidinger told Reuters. The work is believed to have once resided in a Vienna studio that was once shared by the brothers. The piece was reportedly removed in the 1980s and went missing thereafter.

The piece was recently purchased by an art dealer named Josef Renz, who bought it from a family near Linz. Renz has stated that the work was created by Gustav Klimt or perhaps by the two brothers working together. The dealer reportedly wanted to bring the work to auction.

It remains unclear how the doubts about the piece's authenticity will affect the planned sale.

Saturday marked the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt. The artist, born in 1862, is the subject of an exhibition at the Getty Museum, "Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line," which features drawings from the Albertina Museum in Vienna. The exhibition is set to run through Sept. 23.


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