An Austrian court ordered the return of paintings to the heir of their original Jewish owner. The ruling would return the works by Gustav Klimt to the heir of Czech-Jewish businessman Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. Bloch-Bauer’s niece, Maria Altmann, 89, sued Austria in 1999 to get back the paintings, which are still on display in Austria’s Belvedere Gallery. The court’s ruling is binding. The paintings were taken by the Nazis when Germany annexed Austria in 1938, the same year that Bloch-Bauer fled the country. The case was complicated by the fact that Bloch-Bauer had left the paintings to the government, based on the wishes of his wife, who died in 1925.
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