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Culture & Art

Ronald Lauder Cuts Deal on Klimt Painting

Ronald Lauder and his collection 2022 ( Photo by Shahar Azran The Neue Galerie New York )

Ronald S. Lauder. President of the World Jewish Congress has reached a deal with the heirs of Irene Beran on the ownership of a famous painting by Gustav Klimt “The Black Feather Hat” (1910). The painting was looted from the family during the Nazi occupation of much of Europe and ended up in Lauder’s possession. Now Mr. Lauder has agreed to pay restitution to the family for the value of the painting and retain its ownership.

Ronald Lauder said in a statement, “We have worked arduously to uncover the full history of this artwork and trace its trajectory through time. While our joint research leaves gaps remaining, I have long championed the importance of restitution. I felt it was of utmost importance to arrive at a just and fair solution that recognizes the family’s history with this painting.”

Gustav-Klimt.com explains Woman in a Black Feather Hat demonstrates Klimt’s growing interest in Expressionism through his friendship with the young Egon Schiele. The movement’s growing interest was the expression of human suffering and emotions through the heightened impact of strong colors and distortion of form, with Vincent van Gogh often regarded as a forerunner in the genre.

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According to their website BrunoBean.com, Bruno and Irene Beran not only “lived an interesting and full life” but it is evident from the “timeline” that they also lived through interesting times, both from an artistic and a political point of view. Articles in this History area of the website take their cue from some of Bruno’s pictures to expand on events and episodes from their lives. There are inevitable gaps and it may be that visitors to the site can fill some of these or correct inaccuracies.

The painting “The Black Feather Hat” is, unfortunately, not included in the works from the Lauder collection currently on loan to the Neue Galerie New York.

Mr. Lauder and the Beran family heirs  issued a statement saying Ronald S. Lauder and the descendants of Irene Beran (1886–1979) reached a mutual restitution agreement regarding “The Black Feather Hat.” The museum explained that the agreement includes the restitution and reacquisition of the painting from the Beran heirs and described it as, “the result of several years of collaboration during which Mr. Lauder and the Beran heirs have worked with assistance of expert researchers to advance new understanding of the painting’s provenance.”

Since becoming part of Mr. Lauder’s collection. The Black Feather Hat has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications. It was on view most recently from 2019 through 2020 at Neue Galerie New York in a special exhibition of Austrian Masterworks.

The Neue Galerie will continue to display the Ronald S. Lauder Collection through March 20. The museum describes it as a “major exhibition” featuring approximately 500 works from the collection of the museum’s co-founder and President, many of which have never been on public display. The exhibition provides unique insight into one of the finest private collections in the world and introduces visitors to the mindset of a passionate lifelong connoisseur of art, whose forward-thinking vision laid the groundwork for the museum.

Developed over the course of 65 years, the Lauder Collection is defined by an absolute dedication to art of beauty, quality, and rarity. Only on one other occasion has the public had the opportunity to explore the collection comprehensively, in a special exhibition organized in honor of the museum’s tenth anniversary, which included artworks dating from the third century BCE through the twentieth century. Now, for its twentieth anniversary year, the Neue Galerie reveals the continued evolution of the Lauder Collection, including masterworks of Greek and Roman sculpture, Italian thirteenth and fourteenth century gold-ground paintings, objects for a Kunstkammer, and Austrian and German painting, sculpture and decorative arts from the early twentieth century. With a focus on important additions to the core collection, as well as new areas of inquiry, the exhibition conveys the collector’s commitment to excellence across a broad spectrum of art. Displayed throughout the museum’s two gallery floors, the exhibition situates these works in domestically scaled settings similar to how they appear in Lauder’s own home.

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