Looted Art on Screen: Woman in Gold - Shawna Seed

Looted Art on Screen: Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold, which opens in theaters April 1, is based on a true story of looted art. It stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, a Los Angeles woman who takes the government of Austria to court to recover a Gustav Klimt portrait of her aunt. Austria maintained the painting was willed to a state museum; Altmann and her lawyer, played by Ryan Reynolds, claimed the Austrian government received it only after the Nazis confiscated it.

I had a chance to see the movie in a preview screening Monday night. As so often is the case, Hollywood took dramatic license with the facts. But Mirren’s performance is terrific, and there’s no denying the essential power of Maria Altmann’s story. Film critics haven’t been especially enthusiastic, but I think the film is worth seeing.

One interesting tidbit: In Not in Time, a character refers in passing to a case in which a looted painting worth millions was returned to its rightful owners. I had Maria Altmann’s case in mind when I wrote that line.

This recent New York Times article has more background on the case — and explains just how rare such outcomes are.

You can learn more about Klimt and see images of his artwork here.




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