Peter Aspden in the Financial Times details the path to auction that this Gustav Klimt painting took to satisfy a restitution claim. With $90m in works sold at Sotheby’s alone in 2009, restitution has become a fruitful vineyard for the auction houses:
Sotheby’s is offering “Church in Cassone” for sale early next month at its London auction house. It estimates that the painting will be sold for £12m to £18m, a hefty amount for sure, although one that seems curiously muted considering some of the prices realised during the art market’s extended pre-credit crunch bubble, which made multimillionaires of the likes of Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons.
Yet the price is almost the least interesting thing about the sale of this particular painting. When “Church in Cassone” is sold, the amount raised will – thanks to a legal agreement between the two parties – be split between the present owner, whom Sotheby’s declines to identify, and Georges Jorisch, who will be following events from his home more than 3,000 miles away. […]
Georges Jorisch declines to reveal precisely when he began to pursue his claim for “Church in Cassone”, but the deal he has made with the painting’s present owner was brokered by Sotheby’s, resulting in next month’s auction. “It has not been quick,” says Simmons when I ask if negotiations have been protracted. Most restored works are sold by their new owners, making restitution a lucrative business for the auction houses: it accounted for $90m of sales at Sotheby’s alone last year, says the firm.
A Klimt Painting Comes Home (Financial Times)