Klimt’s art-historical importance as a leader of the turn-of-the-century Viennese Secession movement and the decorative grandeur of his paintings make him the most valued artist of all time. But those values rose to another dimension in 2006, when New York-based cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder paid $135 million for a 1907 gold-dipped portrait of “Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” a prominent Viennese socialite.
The price negotiated at a private sale was, at the time, the highest paid for any work of art. That masterpiece, From Klimt’s so-called Golden Face, It was the subject of a protracted compensation case dramatized in a 2015 film starring Helen Mirren. “Woman in Gold” is now the centerpiece of Lauders New gallery Museum in New York.
Most recently, in 2017, in another private transaction, Oprah Winfrey sold Klimt’s 1912 “Adele Bloch-Bauer II” to a Chinese collector for $150 million. According to Bloomberg. A slightly later portrait of the alluring Bloch-Bauer, “Lady with a Fan,” had a colorful, loosely painted background of exotic textiles. Scholars associate this decoration with the trend of “Japonism” that influenced European artists at the time.
Tuesday’s record price was higher than any achieved at the low-power series auction in New York last month, bucking recent market trends. Since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, major auction houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips have struggled to attract high-quality works to their sales in the British capital.
Klimt’s presence – and through Lucian Freud “Night Interior” from 1968-69, which sold for $12.2 million – Sotheby’s two-part, 73-lot modern and contemporary art evening sale raised $252.9 million. Sotheby’s evening sale in the summer of 2015, a year before the Brexit vote, grossed around $486 million at the time.
On Wednesday evening, Christie’s will offer 67 20th- and 21st-century works of art, titled Paul Signac’s 1896 landscape, that are estimated to fetch at least $72 million.Calanque des Canopieres (Point de Palmer), Saint-Tropez, worth $7 million. Christie’s equivalent London sales in 2015 took in about $263 million.