'Lost' Schiele masterpiece sells for £12m at auction

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The Independent Online

A lost masterpiece by Austrian painter Egon Schiele was sold at auction by Christies for almost £12m last night.

The 1914 painting Herbstsonne, which had been missing for more than 60 years after being confiscated by the Nazis during the Second World War, doubled its estimate when it sold for £11,768,000. The painting pays homage to Sunflowers, by Vincent Van Gogh. It was the second highest price for a Schiele sold at auction and was last seen publicly in Paris in 1937 after being bought from the painter for 3,000 francs shortly before the First World War.

Austrian collector Karl Grunwald acquired the painting when he appointed Schiele as a war artist, saving him from serving on the front line. When Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, Grunwald fled for France, but 50 paintings from his collection were confiscated in Strasbourg.

After his death in 1964, one of his sons worked to recover the paintings, but the Herbstsonne eluded him. In 2005, the owner of the painting called in valuers. When they heard about the painting they thought it was a copy.

Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London also featured a selection of 12 works by Pablo Picasso and paintings by Cezanne, Renoir, Braque, and Ernst. It follows Sotheby's record-breaking auction of Impressionist and Modern Art on Monday night, where a total of £88.7m was spent - the highest amount for any auction in London. Modigliani's portrait Jeanne Hébuterne au Chapeau was sold for £16.36m, while a pastel from Degas's Bather series sold for £6.7m.