Klimt painting to be sold at Christie's

Christie's has not determined whether the works - three landscapes and a portrait worth an estimated US$100 million ( Ђ 78 million) - will be auctioned or sold privately, Christie's president Marc Porter was quoted as telling the New York Times for Monday's editions.

The paintings are currently on display at the Neue Galerie, a New York museum of German and Austrian art, along with one of Klimt's most famous works, an ornate portrait of Viennese art patron Adele Bloch-Bauer from 1907.

The five Klimts were handed over by Austria in January to Maria Altmann of Los Angeles, Bloch-Bauer's niece, and other family members following a seven-year legal battle. An arbitration court had ruled that they were improperly seized when the Nazis took over the country during World War II, according to the AP.

The paintings temporarily went on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from April to June, when cosmetics mogul Ronald S. Lauder purchased the gold-flecked portrait of Bloch-Bauer for a reported US$135 million ( Ђ 105.5 million), topping the previous listed world art record of US$104.2 million ( Ђ 81.5 million) for a Picasso.

The other portrait to be sold at Christie's is a lesser known, colorful portrait of Bloch-Bauer executed between 1903 and 1916.

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