Top price predicted for long-lost Klimt portrait at Vienna auction

A painting by symbolist icon Gustav Klimt that reappeared after nearly a century will be sold at auction in Vienna on Wednesday despite questions surrounding its provenance.

"Bildnis Fraeulein Lieser" (Portrait of Miss Lieser) was commissioned by a wealthy Jewish industrialist's family and painted by Klimt in 1917 shortly before he died.

The unfinished portrait of a dark-haired woman was likely last seen at a Viennese exhibition in 1925. It reemerged this year when auction house im Kinsky announced its sale.

"No one expected that a painting of this importance, which had disappeared for 100 years, would resurface," said im Kinsky expert Claudia Moerth-Gasse.

Portraits by the Austrian great rarely come onto the open market.

The auction house estimates its value at 30-50 million euros ($32-53 million), but Klimt works have sold for higher prices at recent auctions.

Last June, Klimt's "Dame mit Faecher" (Lady with a Fan) was sold in London for £74 million ($94.3 million at the time), a European art auction record.

The highest price paid at auction in Austria is a work by Flemish painter Frans Francken II, which fetched seven million euros in 2010.

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