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PROPERTY OF THE HEIRS OF RUDOLF RITTER VON GUTMANN
Rudolf Ritter von Gutmann was born on May 21, 1880 in Vienna, the son of coal and steel magnate Wilhelm von Gutmann and his wife Ida, née Wodianer. One of the foremost entrepreneurs of the Austrian-Hungarian industrial revolution, Wilhelm von Gutmann was also active in civic life -- he founded the fore-runner of the Federation of Austrian Industrialists -- and in philanthropic work. He was involved in the establishment and funding of many Jewish charities, schools and institutions, such as the famed Rudolfinerhaus Hospital.
After Wilhelm's death in 1895, his son Max assumed responsibility for the family business, allowing his brother Rudolf to pursue his interest in the Fine Arts. Financially independent, Rudolf built up a vast collection of Old Master paintings, works of art, engravings, prints, books and manuscripts. Within a few years he had assembled a collection that was considered one of the finest and most important private collections in Austria.
In 1938, only hours before the Anschluss, Gutmann and his wife Marianne, née Freiin von Ferstel, fled Austria, leaving behind all their possessions. They escaped to Czechoslovakia and finally settled in British Columbia, where they were to live until Rudolf von Gutmann's death in 1966.
Gutmann's collection, consisting of more than 1000 items, his business assets and his extensive real estate, were all seized by the Nazis. The majority of the art collection was intended for Hitler's planned Linz Museum and stored under the Führervorbehalt. Many items entered museums and public collections, including the National Library, the Kunsthistorische Museum, the Joanneum, Graz, the Belvedere and the Albertina.
Gutmann was successful in regaining parts of his collection after the war and, following the Austrian Art Restitution Act (1998), 'donated' works from the National Library and the Albertina were returned to his heirs in 2006.
Christie's is delighted to be able to offer the following group of manuscripts from the ÖNB on behalf of the heirs of Rudolf Ritter von Gutmann. Two 15th-century prints restituted from the Albertina will be included in the sale of Old Master, Modern and Contemporary Prints, 20 September 2006 at London, King St.