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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Stolen masterpiece fetches 11.7m
Egon Schiele's Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II)
Egon Schiele died of influenza in 1918, aged 28
A painting by Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele, missing for more than 60 years after it was stolen by the Nazis in 1938, has fetched 11.7m at auction.

The 1914 masterpiece Wilted Sunflowers (Autumn Sun II), which pays homage to Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers, was sold at Christie's auction house in London.

The painting surfaced last year when an anonymous collector asked Christie's for a valuation.

It was returned to the family of its original owner, who sold it on Tuesday.

The painting, which fetched nearly twice its pre-sale estimate, was part of sale of impressionist and modernist art that included more than a dozen Picassos and works by Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne.

For decades it was feared that Wilted Sunflowers had been destroyed during World War II.

Sombre

The painting was last exhibited in Paris in 1937, when it was owned by Austrian art dealer Karl Grunwald.

Mr Grunwald fled Vienna for Paris in 1938, but Wilted Sunflowers was among 50 paintings confiscated by the Nazis in Strasbourg. It disappeared after being sold at auction in 1942.

The watercolour and oil work is said to depict Schiele's sombre mood on the eve of World War I.

The London art market is currently experiencing a boom in sales, as a result of new buyers from Russia and the Middle East.

A sale at auction house Sotheby's, also of impressionist and modern art, fetched a total of 88.7m on Tuesday - believed to be a record for a single auction in London.




SEE ALSO
Stolen painting could fetch 6m
21 Apr 06 |  Entertainment
Austria 'may return looted art'
06 Apr 06 |  Entertainment
Dutch state to return Nazi loot
06 Feb 06 |  Europe
New look at Nazi looted art law
29 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
'Looted' painting fetches 11.3m
24 Jun 03 |  Entertainment

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