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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 12:44 GMT
Looted Klimts returned to owner
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was painted in 1907
Paintings by Gustav Klimt are on their way to the US from a Vienna museum following more than 60 years after they were looted by Nazis in World War II.

The five pictures, worth at least $100m (59m), will be returned to Maria Altmann, the niece of a former factory owner who had his possessions seized.

Among the pictures are two famous portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer.

The Austrian government said the paintings were too expensive to buy back for the nation.

The pictures had been housed at the Belvedere Museum but will now go on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in California between April and June.

"In gratitude to the city and county of Los Angeles, which provided me a home when I fled the Nazis, and whose courts enabled me to recover my family's paintings at long last, I am very pleased that these wonderful paintings will be seen at LACMA," said Ms Altmann.

"It was always the wish of my uncle and aunt to make their collection available to the public."

The paintings were the subject of a lengthy legal battle as the Altmann family fought to have them returned.

Ms Altmann previously received $21m (12m) as part of a settlement to compensate victims of the Nazis.

Her family, including her uncle Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, were major shareholders in an Austrian sugar refinery but their savings were plundered from a Swiss bank during the war. The Belvedere still has a collection of Klimt paintings, including one of his most famous, The Kiss.

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