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Tobias Natter, director of Vienna’s Leopold Museum, abruptly announced his resignation to protest ties between museum board members and a new foundation established to manage the Gustav Klimt collection once belonging to Gustav Ucicky, the artist’s son and a director of Nazi propaganda films.

Natter told Bloomberg, “I see this as a huge problem for the museum. Ucicky collected in the Nazi era. The shadow of looted art has hung so heavily over the Leopold in the past years. Why do we have to get into bed with these people? It is incompatible and a conflict of interests in so many different ways.” The Gustav Klimt Wien 1900 foundation owns 4 oil paintings by the artist as well as 10 drawings and an assortment of other documents and photographs. The entire collection is estimated to be worth $275 million. Ucicky’s wife, Ursula, who was given the collection upon her husband’s death in 1961, established the new foundation.

In 2010, The Leopold Museum paid $19 million to the heirs of the Jewish art dealer Lea Bondi Jaray to settle a decades-long dispute over a portrait by Egon Schiele. The museum has faced a spate of other restitution claims over the years.

 

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