Ronald Lauder, former U.S. ambassador to Austria Jewish philanthropist, art collector and president of the Jewish National Fund recently bought a Gustav Klimpt painting stolen by the Nazis and returned to its owners for a record-breaking $135,000.000–the most ever paid for a painting. The painting, a portrait of a Viennese Jewish woman, Adele Bloch-Bauer, was involved in a battle with Austrian authorities for its return to the heirs of the family that owned it before the Holocaust. Last January, the courts agreed to return that Klimt and four others to Maria Altmann, the subject’s niece, who lives in Los Angeles and is 90 years old, and the other heirs.

Lauder, who was also a president of the Conference of Presidents, told the New York Times that the portrait was. “our Mona Lisa.” He and his brother are founders of the five-year-old Neue Galerie, a museum at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street devoted entirely to German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. It is housed in the former Vanderbilt Mansion that served as a home for YIVO, the Yiddish institute, for many years.

The heirs were able to recover some of the works of art stolen from their family by the Nazis, when they fled the Anschluss, but the Austrian courts decided that Mrs. Bloch-Bauer’s will had left the Klimts to Austria. In 1998 Hubertus Czernin, a journalist working for the Boston Globe found the original documents (see In Memoriam) that determined the outcome of the case and proved the family’s ownership.