The Augustinerkeller in the centre of Vienna was used as a depot to house the art collection belonging to Count Karl Lanckoronski (1848–1939), which had been seized in autumn 1939 from his son Anton in accordance with the Regulation on Management of the Assets of Members of the Former Polish State. Although they came under the responsibility of Hermann Göring's Haupttreuhandstelle Ost (HTO), Hitler claimed a pre-emptive right to the collection, which he intended to distribute among Austrian museums after the war. While the paintings were stored initially in Immendorf Castle in 1942 and then in Thürnthal Castle in 1943, a site had to be found for the sculptures. The City of Vienna recalled the Augustinerkeller basement underneath the Albertina, which was the location of a restaurant. Ludwig Berg, salvage director in the Reichsstatthalterei, noted in 1943 that the 1,000 square metres there would be ideal because the site was "well aired, heatable, easy to access, in a prestigious building and considered bombproof because it was integrated in the old Augustinerbastei fortifications with their multiple vaults." After Reichsstatthalter Baldur von Schirach agreed to its use as a depot, under the supervision of the Albertina as depot administrator, the stone statues from the Lanckoronski collection and some of the antiques collection from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, including the Ephesus reliefs, the statues of St Stephen from the Wiener Städtische Sammlungen, statues from the Österreichische Galerie, such as Franz Xaver Messerschmidt's famous character heads, Georg Raphael Donner's statues and the marble Habsburg statues by Paul and Peter Strudel from the National Library Stateroom were transferred to the Augustinerkeller. The Institute for Monument Preservation also arranged the salvaging of statues from private buildings and public squares, including Johann Martin Fischer's statue of Hygieia from the front courtyard of the Josephinum. Some marble blocks belonging to the Administration of Palaces (Schlösserverwaltung) intended for a "Führer" relief were also stored there. Probably because of the high air humidity, Klimt's Beethoven Frieze, which was originally to have been stored underneath the Albertina as well, was eventually moved to Thürnthal Castle. Although the theft of some objects by members of the Reichsstatthalterei was reported after the war, the artworks remained intact. Together with other collection objects, the statues from the Lanckoronski collection were restituted after the war to Anton Lanckoronski. Plans to open a lapidarium after the war in the former depot were not followed up. The Augustinerkeller was cleared in October 1947 and the restaurant reopened.
Publications about the person / institution
Pia Schölnberger, "Hier feiert der Luftschutz Orgien". Die Bergungsmaßnahmen der Graphischen Sammlung Albertina unter George Saiko, in: Pia Schölnberger/Sabine Loitfellner (Hg.), Bergung von Kulturgut im Nationalsozialismus. Mythen – Hintergründe – Auswirkungen (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 6), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2016, 129–148, URL: doi.org/10.7767/9783205201564-008.
BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 6, M. 6, Augustinerkeller.