Kien, Julius

Julius Kien


21 January 1868 Uherský Ostroh, Moravia – 21 June 1949 Sydney

Julius Kien was born in Uherský Ostroh, Moravia, as the third of six children. His family is thought to have moved to Vienna before the turn of the century. He owned a commercial agency on today's Rooseveltplatz in Vienna. According to the declaration of assets he was forced to make in July 1938 because of his Jewish origins, he owned a house in Pötzleinsdorf, securities, cash and unspecified artworks and pictures. The German art dealer Adolf Weinmüller evaluated and took some of these art objects for sale. Handelsagentur Julius Kien und Co. was closed on 30 November 1938. Friedrich Röck, director of the Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology), informed the Ministry for Internal and Cultural Affairs on 10 March 1939 that Julius Kien's ethnographic collection contained two Chinese burial urns from the Sung era and a hanging plant pot from the Ming era, which had been prohibited from export and given by the former owner to the Museum für Völkerkunde. The next day, a letter was sent to Julius Kien confirming that the museum had accepted the three objects as a gift by agreement with the Zentralstelle für Denkmalschutz (Central Monument Protection Office) and had no objection to the export of the remaining ethnographic objects in the collection. In March 1939 Julius Kien fled via Switzerland and London to Sydney, Australia. At the end of March 1939, the director of the Museum für Völkerkunde requested authorization from the Vermögensverkehrsstelle (Property Transaction Office) to purchase the three objects owned by Julius Kien for 700 Reichsmarks. The documents do not indicate whether the museum acquired these objects as a gift or purchase.

In 1970, Hedwig Spiegel, née Kien (1903–1985), and Friedrich/Frederick Kien (1904–1998), Julius Kien's children, claimed unsuccessfully to the Finanzlandesdirektion für Wien, Niederösterreich und das Burgenland (Provincial Tax Office for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland) for the return of four artworks listed in the special edition of the Wiener Zeitung of 2 September 1969 under the first Kunst- und Kulturgutbereinigungsgesetz (Determination of Ownership of Works of Art and Cultural Assets Act). The claims were not in connection with the three objects acquired in 1939 by the Museum für Völkerkunde, which were dealt with during the systematic provenance research under the 1998 Art Restitution Act. Etta Becker-Donner, later director of the Völkerkundemuseum (Museum of Ethnology, now Weltmuseum Wien), had noted in autumn 1946 in the Kien file that she intended to register these acquisitions under the Vermögensentziehungs-Anmeldungsverordnung (Asset Expropriation Registration Regulation) but apparently never did so. In 2001, on the basis of provenance research, the Art Restitution Advisory Board recommended the restitution of the two burial urns and the hanging pot by the Museum für Völkerkunde to the heirs of Julius Kien. The objects were returned in 2006 and then sold to the museum, the proceeds going to the Yad Vashem memorial.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Julius Kien, 14.3.2001, URL: (3.12.2020).

Ildikó Cazan-Simányi, "... ganz auserlesene, nicht mehr erhältliche Stücke ..." Die ethnographischen Objekte des Julius Kien (1868–1949), in: Archiv Weltmuseum Wien 69 [voraussichtlich 2021].

Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Jetzt ist er bös, der Tennenbaum. Die zweite Republik und ihre Juden. Jüdisches Museum der Stadt Wien, Wien 2005, 46–47.

N. N., Opfer nationalsozialistischer Verfolgung und Enteignung, Julius Kien, URL:,%20Julius.html (3.12.2020).

N. N., Eintrag Julius Kien, in: Geni A MyHeritage company, URL: (3.12.2020).


BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 47, Zl. 4301/71.

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 17494, Julius Kien.

WMW-Archiv, Direktionsakten 1938, 1939, 1946, 1971, 1972.
WMW-Archiv, Sammlermappe Julius Kien.