Gustav Klimt

Images_10Leonard Lauder, recently purchased The Dancer, for his museum, the Neue Galerie.  The story of how this particular piece came to the United States is fascinating. 

Before WWII, the Bloch-Bauer family was a prominent Viennese family in the sugar business.  The husband, who collected Klimt, commissioned him to do a painting of his wife.  In 1938, the war came and the families entire state was seized by the Nazis.  They Bloch-Bauer’s died soon after around 1945. The Bloch-Bauer’s had no children but had bequeathed their entire estate to their niece.  Their art ended up at the Vienna Art Museum after the war ended.

The family, who is now in America, continued to make attempts to recover what was rightfully theirs.  In the 1990’s, the Block-Bauer heirs finally succeeded in having the work declared stolen and the paintings were returned to them.  True perseverance.  It was then that Leonard Lauder purchased the famous painting of Adele Block-Bauer for $135 million. 

I went to see the painting.  It is truly magnificent.  You don’t want to leave the room.  I didn’t have a chance to listen to the history but will return in the fall before exhibit closes with the kids to listen to the tape and hear the story. 

Adele is a goddess  in this painting.  Her head, which is painted completely different than the rest of the painting, makes her look like royalty.  I guess she was royalty at that time.  Layers of gold flows through the painting creating her dress and seat to look as if it is one.

If you are in NY, it is a must to go see.  I am not sure when there will be a chance to see this painting again in person.  Is it worth $135 million?  Only time will tell.  But what is $135 Million among a captured audience of New Yorkers?

Comments (Archived):

  1. ellen

    As you were writing this blog, I was reading a third arrticle about this painting, so your subject matter is a coincidence this morning. I was wondering how the amount of 135 million was determined? That is quite a sum for one painting. There were also another 3 or 4 paintings that are up for sale from this same period. Were they at the museum also? It is a shame that Adele
    Block-Bauer died less than a decade after this portrait was painted.

    This stellar price always brings to mind how does one really determine what a painting is worth? Usually, there is a history of what a certain artist’s perceived value is, but then someone is so taken with a work that suddenly they are a market maker with the purchase of that painting, and the market for that artist and like works reach new heights. So if you happen to have a Klimt in the attic, it seems like a good time to sell.