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Gustav Klimt Painting Sells For A Record $135 Million
Gustav Klimt, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907. Oil, silver, and gold on canvas. 55 1/8 x 55 1/8 in. (140 x 140 cm). Estate of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer.

NEW YORK.- Ronald S. Lauder, cosmetics tycoon, billionaire and founder of the New York Museum Neue Galerie, has acquired Gustav Klimtīs Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I made in 1907. The businessman reportedly paid the highest sum ever paid for a work of art $135 million. Picasso's Boy With a Pipe, which fetched $104.1m (Ģ56.3m) in 2004, holds the record for art sold at auction. “The Klimt sale was subject to a confidentiality agreement but family lawyer Steven Thomas confirmed it had exceeded the Picasso record”, reported the BBC. The portrait was sold by Block-Bauer's niece, Maria Altmann, who was able to claim the painting as hers only this past January, reported Forbes magazine.

Along with this painting, four others were stolen by the Nazis in 1938. “Klimt's 1907 portrait of his patron and rumoured lover was taken in 1938 in the Hermann Goering-led plunder of art by the Nazis. It eventually found its way into the Belvedere Museum in Vienna and was the subject of a rancorous eight year battle between the Austrian government and the heirs of Adele Bloch-Bauer”, reported the Guardian. The paintings were returned to their rightful owners in January and were then thought to cost more than 150 million. The collection has been on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since April and will remain there until June 30.

A press release from the Los Angeles County Museum states: As the leading exponent of Viennese Jugendstil in painting, Klimt’s most memorable works included his dazzling portraits of Vienna’s leading society ladies, many of whom were Jewish. One of the best known of these is his magnificent 1907 painting, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, portraying the wife of the industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer (the aunt of Maria Altmann).

Foremost among the rare “gold style” works, the painting captures its elegant and intelligent subject as the ideal of feminine beauty. The figure dissolves into sumptuous patterning reminiscent of the Byzantine mosaics at Ravenna, Italy, portraying the Empress Theodora, which Klimt had visited in 1903. Klimt’s fine craftsmanship in this work is evident in his varied uses of real gold: as a diffuse background luster reminiscent of Japanese lacquer, as the fabric of a flowing gown, and as a pattern punctuated with Egyptian god’s-eye motifs. In contrast with this rich decorative treatment, Adele’s face stands out as an extraordinarily modern psychological portrayal, while her hands are arranged gracefully to conceal a deformed finger. Self-assured yet introspective, she comports herself as a woman of privilege devoted to the world of the intellect.

Transcending the customary role of women at the time, Adele hosted a salon, a regular social gatherings of artists, writers, musicians, and progressive politicians who discussed the issues of the day.

Adele Bloch-Bauer was the only woman whose portrait was painted twice by Klimt. In Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II the artist abandoned the iconic ambience and gold decoration of the first portrait in favor of a more modern approach to color. The vivid colors are applied spontaneously, yet with a strong compositional sense. An Asian motif can be seen in the upper background.

If you would like to know more about Klimtīs life and important dates in his career please visit:

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