Lonely Planet Writer

Art museum in Austria responsible for losing €9 million worth of artwork

Austria’s city of Linz has found itself owing a whopping compensation bill after losing four artworks it had borrowed.

Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz.
Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz. Image by Konstantinos Dafalias / CC BY 2.0

Works by Austrian artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele were loaned on a long-term basis to the city-run Lentos Kunstmuseum by collector Olga Jäger in 1951. She died 14 years later and in 2006 her heirs asked for the works back. It transpired that the museum had lost three works by Schiele: Paar, Junger Mann and Tote Stadt, as well as a Klimt drawing, Zwei Legende.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that the museum pay €100,000 in compensation for one of the Schiele artworks and has now has ordered the city to pay €8.24 million plus 4% interest for the others, reports The Local.  The legal case has been in dispute for a decade.

Although the city lost its final appeal against paying the compensation, there is a chance the  ruling may still  be challenged by Linz. The director of the Lentos Kunstmuseum has said there is evidence that Jäger said the loan was to end in 1990. If that’s the case, the statutes of limitations could mean the legal challenge was filed too late to be heard in court.