Monday, April 06, 2015

Adele Bloch-Bauer and Gustav Klimt

 The 'woman in gold', a way for Austria to hide the identity of the painting, a painting of the wife of a rich Jewish industrialist, whom he commissioned the Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt to paint. The family fled Austria leaving behind a houseful of paintings, jewelry and other valuable items. The Nazis and the curator of the Austrian Belvedere museum looted the house. All told five Klimts were taken to the Belvedere museum which claimed ownership for over 50 years. Finally they decided to return these paintings to the heirs of the Bloch-Bauer estate. But not after a long 8 year legal battle in which an unknown Los Angeles lawyer was involved, together with the elderly niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer. The paintings arrived in Los Angeles because Maria Altman, the niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer was living here since she fled Austria. Ronald Lauder (of Estee Lauder family) purchased the 'woman in gold' for US$135 million to be displayed at the Neue gallery in New York. So the painting went by a very very secured truck to New York where it is now. One of the conditions of the sale was this painting must be viewed by the public. I missed seeing the painting because the day I was there, the Neue gallery was closed. The other 4 Klimts went into private collection, their sale totaled US$192 million.
Gustav Klimt never painted his women twice except for Adele Bloch-Bauer. There was a second Adele Bloch-Bauer that was sold to a private collector for US$88 million! This is her! She is now on long term loan to the New York Museum of modern art (MOMA). And I'm pleased to say, I saw her and took this picture of her. Wow!
I just came back from seeing the movie 'woman in gold'. The critics didn't like the movie but there was not a dry eye in the cinema, everyone was crying! The lawyer, Randol Schoenberg, wrote the screenplay even as he fought the case. His ancestry is also Austrian, his grandfather was a famous Austrian composer.

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