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Controversial art collector Rudolf Leopold dies at 85

VIENNA - Rudolf Leopold, who assembled Austria's largest private art collection, including works allegedly stolen by the Nazis, died yesterday at the age of 85.

Leopold died at a hospital in Vienna after suffering multiple organ failure, a spokesman for the Leopold Museum said.

Leopold is credited with assembling the country's largest and most important private art collection that includes more than 5,000 works by artists such as Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and Oskar Kokoschka.

But the collection has been criticized by Austria's Jewish community and others who claim it contains works seized by the Nazis that should be returned to their rightful owners or heirs.

In 2008, a legal opinion commissioned by the Jewish community found that at least 11 of the foundation's works, including some by Schiele, Anton Romako and Albin Egger-Lienz, belonged to people who were persecuted by the Nazis - and that Leopold must have been aware of the possibility that they had been seized. Leopold disputed the allegations.- AP

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