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A Picture Worth 1,000 Words… And $135M
Tycoon Brings Gustav Klimt's 'Adele' To New York For A Record-Breaking Price

NEW YORK, July 11, 2006
Detail from Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907 (GETTY)

Fast Fact

Klimt painted Adele Bloch-Bauer in 1907. The daughter of a Jewish sugar magnate, she was rumored to be the artist's lover

(CBS) Starting later this week at a new museum in New York, art lovers can see with their own eyes the painting that set a world record at auction.

Cosmetics tycoon Ronald Lauder bought the portrait by Gustav Klimt last month, and Tuesday he gave CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason an exclusive interview – and look.

As the world's most expensive painting was carefully uncrated, the new owner waited to see the work that literally cost him a fortune.

"I just absolutely adore it," says Lauder.

Gustav Klimt's gilded masterpiece, the portrait of Adele, cost Lauder a record-breaking $135 million.

"Sometimes now I look back and say, 'How did I do it?'" Lauder tells Mason. "But at the moment when it was a question of buying it, it took me about two seconds to say yes."

In his first television interview since buying the work, Lauder said Tuesday it will become the star of his museum devoted to Austrian and German art – the Neue Gallerie in New York.

A lifelong collector, he's heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune.

But isn't $135 million a lot of money – even for him?

"This was not a question of money," he says. "This was a question of something so special. This piece is priceless."

Not for a man worth a reported $2.7 billion.

Klimt painted Adele Bloch-Bauer in 1907. The daughter of a Jewish sugar magnate, she was rumored to be the artist's lover.

But in 1938, when the Nazis invaded Austria, the painting was looted. After an epic legal battle, Adele's portrait was finally returned to her heirs in Los Angeles earlier this year. The heirs then decided to sell it.

In the final leg of its incredible journey, the gold portrait was brought from Los Angeles in an unmarked truck shadowed by two security cars, traveling non-stop for three days and nights across the country.

Maria Altman, Adele's 90-year-old niece, came to see her aunt's portrait and said the painting, "has found its home here. It makes us all very happy."

Installed behind bulletproof glass, the shimmering Adele will be on display at the Neue Gallerie beginning on Thursday. The painting's price tag is now as rich as its history.

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Long Lines Likely at Neue Galerie's `Golden Adele' Klimt Show
July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Can't wait to behold Gustav Klimt's ``Golden Adele'' at New York's Neue Galerie?

Get ready to wait in line. Or become a member for $275, which makes the line shorter.

Neue Galerie's elegant 1914 mansion can accommodate no more than 350. And the gallery where the dazzling portrait ``Adele Bloch-Bauer I'' and four other works by the early 20th-century Austrian painter will be shown (from July 13 through Sept. 18) holds only 80 viewers at a time.

The gold-splattered, 1907 oil for which cosmetics magnate and Neue Galerie co-founder Ronald S. Lauder recently paid $135 million received so much publicity that ``it made Klimt a household name,'' said New York dealer Richard L. Feigen. ``The exhibition of these paintings will be a mob scene.''

A hint of what may be in store for visitors to ``Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings From the Collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer'' comes from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where the five paintings were on view April through June.

When the record amount Lauder paid for ``Adele Bloch-Bauer I'' was reported, LACMA saw a drastic spike in attendance, said Heidi Simonian, the museum's spokeswoman.

``We had lines around the corner like a Disneyland,'' she said. On its last day, the exhibition attracted more than 7,500, a daily record for the show. LACMA limited the Klimt gallery capacity to 70-75.

Past Crowds

This is a far cry from the Neue Galerie's record daily attendance of 1,907, set during a recent Egon Schiele show.

Will there be lines for the Klimt show?

``Probably,'' said deputy director Scott Gutterman. ``We'll form an orderly line outside if we exceed capacity.''

Actually, there will be two lines, one for members and another for the general public.

The museum will adjust the flow in and out of the second- floor Klimt gallery, ``so that everybody doesn't go directly through the Klimt,'' Gutterman explained.

While the amount of time spent in the Klimt gallery won't be restricted, the small number of paintings should keep visits short, Gutterman said.

In addition, the museum will offer a special viewing on Wednesdays, when it's typically closed, from noon till 4 p.m. It's free to members and $50 for others, instead of the usual $15. Tickets for any day must be bought on-site; there are no reservations, timed tickets or advance sales.

Stolen Art

The Bloch-Bauer paintings, looted by the Nazis in 1938 and exhibited for decades in Vienna's Belvedere museum, were restituted in January to Maria Altmann and other heirs after a court fight with the Austrian government. Adele Bloch-Bauer was a Viennese art patron and wife of Jewish sugar magnate Ferdinand; she may also have been Klimt's mistress.

The golden portrait will be part of the Neue Galerie's permanent collection once the exhibition closes. The other four Klimts may be sold privately or put on the block, according to Altmann's lawyer Steven Thomas of Irell & Manella LLP in Los Angeles.

Neue Galerie New York is located at 1048 Fifth Ave., corner of East 86th Street; (1) (212) 628-6200; http://www.neuegalerie.org . General admission Thursdays through Mondays is $15, $50 Wednesdays. The museum is closed Tuesdays. Children younger than 12 aren't admitted.

Neue Galerie annual membership costs $275. The museum also offers a ``national'' membership ($100) for those who live 200 miles or more from New York City; it offers fewer benefits, but can be used for the Klimt exhibition.

The fastest way to become a member is to apply at the museum's membership desk or phone director of membership Phyllis LaRiccia at (1) (212) 994-9491. Online applications take longer to process, LaRiccia said.
 

To contact the reporter on this story:
Katya Kazakina in New York at  kkazakina@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: July 12, 2006 10:40 EDT
 

Klimt Painting on Permanent Display in N.Y.
 
By DAVID MINTHORN
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- What is likely the world's costliest artwork, a sensuous, 1907 portrait by Gustav Klimt of a Viennese woman in a gold gown, was unveiled Wednesday by the proud new owner, cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder.
"It's our 'Mona Lisa,'" Lauder said at a press preview, underlining "Adele Bloch-Bauer I" as a destination piece in his collection of modernist Austrian-German art at the Neue Galerie museum on Fifth Avenue.
 "I'm so happy the picture is here for everyone to see," said Maria Altmann, 90, who traveled from Los Angeles to attend the preview. She and her family battled the Austrian government for years to regain ownership of the portrait and four other valuable Klimts stolen by the Nazis in 1938.
Lauder, a one-time U.S. ambassador to Austria, wouldn't confirm whether he'd paid Bloch-Bauer's niece and the other heirs a record $135 million for the portrait last month, as first reported by The New York Times. But he acknowledged that the price exceeded the listed world art record of $104.2 million paid at auction for Picasso's 1905 "Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)."
Known as "Golden Adele" for the glowing decorative motifs in her floor-length gown, swirling backdrop and flecked wall behind, the 55-inch-by-55-inch painting is one Klimt's most acclaimed works.
In the hothouse atmosphere of turn-of-the-century Vienna, Klimt won fame as the portraitist of the upper class, especially women. At the time of his death in 1918, he was Austria's leading modern artist.
Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, an Austrian Jewish industrialist, commissioned two Klimt oils of his slender, dark-haired wife. The artist and beautiful Adele were rumored to have had an affair during the years when she sat for the portraits, but this has never been documented.
Altmann, who was raised in Vienna, said her own mother reacted with outrage when asked about the rumors, describing the relationship between the artist and his model as purely "intellectual." Altmann said her aunt also denied in letters seen by a family friend that she'd had an affair with Klimt and noted that he suffered from syphilis.
When Adele Bloch-Bauer died in 1925, her will stated that the golden portrait should go to Austria for public display. But at his death in 1945, her husband willed his property, including the confiscated paintings, to Altmann and other family members.
Based on Adele Bloch-Bauer's will, the Austrian government kept her portrait on display at the Galerie Belvedere in Vienna for decades. In 1999, the Bloch-Bauer heirs began legal proceedings to reclaim the five paintings. The paintings were eventually recognized as stolen property by the U.S. Supreme Court and an Austrian court. The works were handed over to the family early this year.
Lauder said Austrian authorities were positive about his purchase of the golden portrait because it will be seen by a wide public, including foreign visitors, at the Neue Galerie, which Lauder co-founded in 2001.
The second oil portrait, "Adele Bloch-Bauer II," from 1912, in more traditional, vivid colors, and three boldly hued Austrian landscapes from 1903, 1912 and 1916 are also being shown in a marble-trimmed room at the former Vanderbilt mansion-turned museum.
The five pictures will be on display at Neue Galerie until Sept. 18, and will not travel beyond New York. They made their U.S. premiere in April at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Together, the four other pictures in the ensemble could be worth as much as the portrait purchased by Lauder.
Scott Gutterman, deputy director of the Neue Galerie, declined to say whether plans are afoot to buy any of the paintings to hang permanently with Adele's portrait. "I don't know if the family has decided what to do with them," he said.
* __
On the Net:
Neue Galerie, New York: http://www.neugalerie.org
 

Jul. 11, 2006 23:59 | Updated Jul. 12, 2006 4:21
Painting looted by Nazis relocated in New York
By TALYA HALKIN

Cosmetics magnate Ronald Lauder's love affair with the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which was painted in Vienna in 1907, began when Lauder was an adolescent on his first trip to the Austrian capital.

On Wednesday, the painting by Viennese artist Gustav Klimt - which Lauder purchased last month for a sum estimated at a record $135 million - will arrive at the Neue Galerie on Manhattan's Museum Mile, a museum for German and Austrian art that Lauder cofounded five years ago.

The painting will be installed as part of a special exhibition of five paintings by Klimt that belonged to the collection of the Jewish-Viennese couple Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer. In 1938, the paintings were stolen by the Nazis.

"For me, this painting was very much about life in early 20th century Vienna and its thriving Jewish community," Lauder said Monday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Lauder is visiting Israel in his capacity as president of the Jewish National Fund.

"Over time, I became more and more fascinated by this era, but never forgot about this portrait," he said.

Lauder said he had visited the painting several times a year for several decades at its home in the Belvedere Galerie in Vienna.

Nevertheless, he said he knew little about its provenance until eight years ago, when he become involved in the recovery and restitution of art looted by the Nazis.

In 1999, Maria Altmann and other heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family began efforts in the courts to recover the five paintings, which had belonged to Altmann's aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. In January, they finally succeeded in having the works declared stolen property, and in March, they were returned to their rightful owners.

"Even after I knew the paintings would be leaving Austria, I found it hard to believe and held my breath until they arrived in Los Angeles," Lauder said. "It was a fascinating roller coaster of emotions, filled with uncertainty about whether they would actually arrive here - it was almost too good to be true."

Lauder then contacted the legal owners of the portrait, and negotiated its purchase for the Neue Galerie.

During WWII, the painting - considered one of Klimt's masterpieces - was renamed Woman in Gold, to hide its Jewish history, Lauder said. It is characterized by shades and textures of gold.

The painting arrived in New York on Friday, he said.

"For the first time, I had a chance to see it up close with no glass on it, and realized how many great details it contained," he said.

Adele Bloch-Bauer was the only woman portrayed twice by Klimt in a full-length portrait, and there has long been speculation that the artist and his sitter had a love affair. Adele Bloch-Bauer I, as the portrait is called, was the first of these two portraits.

The painting's new permanent location at the Neue Galerie, Lauder said, would be on the museum's second floor in a room dedicated to Klimt's work. On Tuesday, Bloch-Bauer's heirs will arrive in New York to see the painting installed.

When the painting goes on public display Wednesday, Lauder said, museum officials expect "enormous crowds." According to Lauder, the Bloch-Bauer's former residence in Vienna is very similar to the museum building.

"I think she would be delighted," he said when asked how he imagined the sitter and former owner of this painting would react if she could see it in its new home.

"New York today is what Vienna was back then," Lauder said. "I believe she would feel very much at home with us."

 
SOPHISTICATED INVESTOR
Mona Lisa smiles
Art market draws new buyers as prices escalate

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By Thomas Kostigen, MarketWatch
Last Update: 7:45 PM ET Jul 11, 2006

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- A $135 million portrait, the highest price ever paid for a painting, confirms what other studies have shown: that confidence in the art market is at record highs. I think it's going to go even higher.
London-based ArtTactic recently released a survey of collectors and art professionals that says strong auction results this year have drawn more people to the art world.
"Strong auction sales in New York and increased art investment by collectors in Russia, China and India have all helped to propel prices," according to London-based ArtTactic. Its index reports contemporary art prices have quadrupled since 1995.
The galvanization, perhaps, was cosmetics magnate Ronald Lauder's $135 million purchase last month of a Gustav Klimt portrait. This, of course, piques investors' and collectors' interests. But the real story is what sophisticated art followers know about the sector as an investment: it does well in times of inflation. If there is ever talk of inflation, it's now.
A wise editor of mine once told me that interest rates are inflation. And to be sure, rates are on the rise.
The ArtTactic report qualifies its view by saying "survey respondents remain mindful of global economic trends. A dip in the global financial markets, they predict, will also result in a slowdown of the art market. They are carefully monitoring recent turbulence to examine the effect it may have on art prices for the next quarter."
That quarter is now. Summer usually brings a lull in art sales. So I don't think any real barometer can be had by looking at current sales (when there is little volume). Instead, the fall will be the real gauge of prices. When the big auction houses, Sotheby's (BID : news, chart, profile ) and Christie's, host their biggest annual sales events, a new stage will be set. I'm predicting it will bring in record amounts.
The reason will be twofold: investors using art as inflation hedges (note hedge funds) and the increased number of people who can afford to buy art.
According to the Merrill Lynch/Capgemini World Wealth report, there are almost 9 million people with a net worth of more than $1 million. They as a group have been steadily growing in number, up 6.5% from last year, and up 9.9% last year compared to the year before.
And they are increasingly scared of the stock market.
Smith Barney, Citigroup's main brokerage arm, says that while affluent investors are financially better off than a year ago, "they are becoming more pessimistic about the future."
The findings by the Citigroup unit concur with a U. S Trust Co. survey of the nation's wealthiest 1% of families. Add to that a stock market that has dropped by more than 700 points over the past few months and you have pessimism abounding.
About one in four of those surveyed by Smith Barney are pessimistic about current and future investment conditions. Meanwhile, U.S. Trust says nearly 70% of the surveyed investors expect stock-market gains to decline and inflation to eat away the value of their investments.
So what better way to preserve value and diversify out of investments that behave like stocks than to invest in art. Or so might be the thinking.
Display of affection
Tangible assets, the category into which art falls, are considered by economists to be inflation hedges. Tangible assets also include gold, commodities, and real estate. We certainly have seen our fair share of price increases in those things too. But in my unbridled opinion, wealthy people especially like art because they can show it off, unlike a stock or metal. (Real estate is something else they can show off.)
More scientifically, art has been examined by two academicians, Jianping Mei and Michael Moses, at New York University. Their Mei Moses Fine Art Index shows art has held up pretty well against stocks over the last 25 years, on average trailing the Standard & Poor's 500 Index by only a couple of percentage points.
Over the last two years, however, the art index beat the S&P by two percentage points in 2004 and 10 percentage points in 2005, seemingly picking up momentum even as the markets recovered.
All this leads me to believe that if stocks aren't looking up, more people will be looking at art as an investment. And tastes aside, overall it looks pretty good.