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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 August 2006, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Auction for recovered Klimt works
See the pictures to go on sale

Four paintings by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, stolen by Nazis and later handed back to the heirs of a Jewish family, are to be sold at auction.

The paintings were taken before World War II and ended up at the Austrian National Gallery, before a court ruled they should be returned.

Among the paintings is one of the wife of the original owner, Adele Bloch-Bauer.

Another painting of Mrs Bloch-Bauer recently sold for $135m (70m).

The paintings originally belonged to Mrs Bloch-Bauer's husband Ferdinand, a wealthy Jewish Austrian industrialist.

Maria Altmann
Mrs Altmann's aunt is the subject of two of Klimt's most famous works

In 1998, the heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family began legal proceedings to have the paintings returned. They were successful after a court ruled the pictures had been seized improperly.

"Since recovering the paintings, my family and I have focused our efforts on arranging exhibitions in Los Angeles and New York in order to share these beautiful works and their powerful story," said the Bloch-Bauer's 90-year-old niece Maria Altmann.

"Our family has now made the decision to part with them.

The four works are Adele Bloch-Bauer II, painted in 1912; Houses in Unterachon Lake Atter, from 1916; Apple Tree I, from either 1911 or 1912; and Birch Forest, painted in 1903.

The works, together with Adele Bloch-Bauer I, are on display at New York's Neue Galerie until 18 September.

Heirs sell off Nazi-acquired art
04 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Klimt portrait on display in NY
13 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
'Record price' for Klimt portrait
19 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
Looted Klimts returned to owner
16 Mar 06 |  Entertainment

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