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'Mona Lisa of Austria' Finds New Home in L.A.

Some of the most treasured paintings by one of Austria's greatest artists have a new home -- in Los Angeles. The five paintings by Gustav Klimt were the objects of a long-running legal battle between the Austrian government and a Jewish family that once owned the art.

The Altmann family claimed the Nazis stole the paintings during World War II. The Austrian government claimed the paintings were willed to the state, fair and square.

Finally, an Austrian arbitration panel this year ruled the paintings belonged to Maria Altmann, who now lives in the United States.

For the past 60 years, the paintings had been on display at the Austrian National Museum's Belvedere Gallery. Now the five famed paintings, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have a new home for the next few months -- the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which houses some of the best-known modern art in America.

"I couldn't be happier and more grateful that they happened to come to Los Angeles, which has been my hometown for so long," Maria Altmann says. "That they are now here is just too good for words."

Altmann, now 90 years old, attended the premiere at LACMA, where the paintings will be on display until June.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Luke Burbank
Luke Burbank is kind of amazed that NPR is letting him co-host its new morning show, The Bryant Park Project, NPR's new morning news show launched on October 1, 2007.