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Nicholas O’Donnell

The feature film ‘Woman in Gold,’ adapted from a book by Anne Marie O’Connor and starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, provides an opportunity to remind ourselves why the case on which it is based was so powerful. The story traces the creation of Gustav Klimt’s famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, its seizure by Nazi authorities after the Austrian Anschluss in 1938, and the international battle that ultimately led to its restitution. Only through courthouse doors could these accounts of Nazi art looting have become known, and these victims finally receive justice seven decades later, rather than being relegated to the dust bin of history like so many others.

woman in gold picAdele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, was the subject of the portrait to which the title of the film refers. When Adele died in the 1920s, her will unequivocally left the painting to Ferdinand, and expressed her desire that her husband leave the painting to the Austrian National Gallery upon his death.

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