|Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907, by Gustav Klimt |
Image Source: www.wikiart.org
After unsuccessfully pursuing several legal avenues to reclaim her aunt's portrait, Maria Altmann finally found a court that agreed to hear her case. Among the justifications stated against the restitution of Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, a.k.a. Woman in Gold, was fear of the "Pandora's Box" it would open up for other families wronged by the Nazi party. In Maria Altmann's case, Austria feared losing the famous painting it considered to be Vienna's crowning jewel, and anticipated that its loss would have a devastating effect on the community. What Austria failed to articulate is why its fear of fair consequences (concerning art restitution) deserved precedence over the opportunity to offset a small measure of the previous injustices committed against its citizens. Surely, the households torn apart by rampant Nazi looting were paralyzed by fear, as their cherished possessions were stolen without remorse. Furthermore, there are no words or actions that could speak loudly enough to ease the pain, loss and haunting memories of Halocaust victims and survivors. Therefore, when so few options exist to aid the emotional healing of the Third Reich's decimated Jewish population, why would anyone argue against one of the only practical methods available: art restitution?