Holocaust Survivor's Kin Seek Return of Looted Klimt Painting 'Beethoven Frieze'

Heirs of Erich Lederer Claim Austria Cheated Them


By JTA

Published October 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The family of a Holocaust survivor who fled Vienna in 1938 has filed a claim for the return of one of the country’s national treasures.

The heirs of Erich Lederer, wealthy Austrian Jews who were important patrons of artist Gustav Klimt, have asked for the restitution of Klimt’s 1902 creation “Beethoven Frieze.” The claims were filed on Tuesday with the government’s Art Restitution Advisory Board, which will make a recommendation to Claudia Schmied, the country’s minister for education, the arts and culture, who will make the final decision, according to The New York Times.

The Lederer family fled Austria in 1938, which led to the seizure of its extensive art collection. Many of the family’s valuable artworks, including 18 works by Klimt, were destroyed.

The “Beethoven Frieze” was returned to the family after World War II, but the state required that they sell the frieze to the government for half its value in order to export the rest of what was recovered of the family’s art collection to Switzerland, where they lived.

The family is now suing for the return of the work under a law passed in 2009 that allows for victims to file restitution claims if they were forced to sell the works for less than their values.

The work is a visual representation of the composer’s Ninth Symphony; it is on display in a government building and is featured on the country’s commemorative 100-euro coin.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.