The industrialist and banker Rudolf Gutmann, partner in Gebrüder Gutmann and Bankhaus Gebrüder Gutmann, owned an extensive art and book collection. He started collecting in 1906. On his behalf the Vienna art dealership Artaria & Co auctioned graphic prints, many of them at auctions in Munich, Leipzig, Stuttgart and Amsterdam. In 1909 and 1910 Gutmann also acquired large parts of the former collection of the Prague baron Adalbert von Lanna. Apart from his interest in graphic prints, in particular by Rembrandt and Dürer, Gutmann also sought to purchase books for his library, which included rare eighteenth-century French books and numerous atlases. His collection contained Dutch paintings by Melchior d'Hondecoeter, J. D. de Heem, Abraham Mignon, Abraham Begeyn, Aert van der Neer, Jacob Ochtervelt and others. Like many collectors, Gutmann marked his works with a personal collector's stamp, and his books had a bookplate.
He was persecuted by the Nazis as a Jew and fled in March 1938 with his wife via Czechoslovakia and Geneva to Canada, where he built up a new life. The Gebrüder Gutmann bank, company and real estate were placed under the trustee administration of the Gesellschaft zur Verwaltung und Verwertung von Vermögenschaften m.b.H., and the art and cultural objects left behind by Gutmann were confiscated and put in storage in the Central Depot for Seized Collections in the Neue Burg. Almost 900 items were catalogued in a list and on file cards with the abbreviation GU. The objects in Gutmann's summer residence in Kalwang in the district of Leoben remained there for the time being and were the responsibility of the Styrian Reich governor's office. The objects stored in the Neue Burg were later moved to the Hofburg and other departments of the Central Monument Protection Office or assigned to museums for provisional storage. The Gesellschaft für Verwaltung und Verwertung für Vermögenschaften m.b.H. took over some of the collection for gradual sale. The Museum of the Reichsgau Oberdonau (the former Upper Austria Provincial Museum) decline to purchase five works by the steel engraver Michael Blümelhuber in 1941 because the price was too high. Two of the works were purchased the following year by the State Arts and Crafts Museum in Vienna (now MAK). The Joanneum in Graz acquired a drawing by Michael Daffinger in 1942. Other items were sold through the Dorotheum in 1943 and 1944.
After the war, Rudolf Gutmann and his lawyer Karl Josef Steger demanded restitution of the art collection and library. The art and cultural objects returned to Gutmann after 1946 had been kept in the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM), MAK and Austrian National Library (ÖNB). In return for export authorization, Gutmann donated some artworks to the museums. The KHM obtained a painting in 1947 by Barthel Bruyn, the ÖNB manuscripts and in 1948 the Albertina two early fifteenth-century Italian prints. In 2004, 2008 and 2013 the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of these objects. The Daffinger drawing acquired in 1942 by the Universalmuseum Joanneum Graz had already been returned in 2002. The Art Restitution Advisory Board did not recommend restitution of the drawing by Jan de Beer, acquired by the Albertina with Gutmann’s agreement from a Viennese art dealer in 1959 or the return of the Fendi album restituted to Gutmann in 1948 and purchased through the art market by the Albertina in the 1970s, or of a book returned to Gutmann and auctioned by him in 1949.