May Militaria & Autographs Auction
Scarce German document dated Vienna, 18. 1.1940, detailing the provenance of Gustav Klimt’s ‘Water Serpents II’. File notice, reading in part: ‘Regards: Oil painting of painter Klimt ‘Water Serpents’. On order by ‘Party comrade Drum’ I noticed the revenue service in Vienna confiscated the Jewish assets of the Steiner family and the aforementioned painting was handed over to the Dorotheum [Auction House] for sale. The Dorotheum estimated the painting at 6,000 Reichsmark. Under the expressed wish of the Gauleiter [Josef Burckel], that the painting shall be removed from the sale by the revenue service and sold in a free sale to the daughter of Klimt, wife of film director ‘Ucicki’…’ An official from the revenue service, Dr. Deigelmaier, cleared the withdrawal of the painting from the sale, if there is an offer to buy it. Deigelmaier and the author discussed that ‘Frau Ucicki’ will come with a buyout offer. The author recommends that a good price for the piece is between 8,000-9,000RM. Gauleiter Burckel will approve the sale and Deigelmaier guarantees the piece will be removed from the Dorotheum. This document allows the Nazis to essentially ‘clean’ the sale of the painting so they may ‘keep’ it under legitimate means. The painting was eventually given to the Nazi film director Gustav Ucicky, the purported illegitimate son of Klimt. Ucicky went on to marry Ursula Ucicky (nee Kohn), in 1957. Following Gustav Ucicky’s death in 1961, Ursula inherited his whole collection of Klimt paintings. In 2012, Ursula negotiated with the rightful heirs of the Klimt painting, the Steiners, to divide the painting’s profits evenly. The painting went up for auction at Sotheby’s and was sold to an art collector for $112 million dollars.