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Returned Klimts to Be Sold at Christies
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New York Times - United States
 

Returned Klimts to Be Sold at Christies
 

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By CAROL VOGEL
Published: August 7, 2006

Four of five paintings by Gustav Klimt that were at the center of a
much-publicized restitution battle will be heading to Christie’s for sale
this fall, Marc Porter, president of Christie’s confirmed yesterday. Whether
the works will be auctioned or sold privately has yet to be determined, he
said.
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Neue Galerie, New York

Houses at Unterach on the Attersee,’’ painted by Klimt around 1916 in the
country near Salzburg.
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Forum: Artists and Exhibitions

Neue Galerie, New York

Adele Bloch-Bauer II’’ (1912). Adele I sold for $135 million.
Neue Galerie, New York

Klimt Birch Forest(1903), one of four to be sold.

Experts say the four paintings — three landscapes and a portrait executed
between 1903 and 1916 — are worth about $100 million.

The five Klimts were handed over by Austria in January to Maria Altmann of
Los Angeles, the niece of the original owners in Vienna, and other family
members. The paintings came from the collection of the Jewish sugar
industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer and his wife, Adele. An arbitration
court had ruled that they were improperly seized when the Nazis took over
the country.

In June the cosmetics executive Ronald S. Lauder purchased the most renowned
of the five, a gold-flecked portrait of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer from 1907, for the
Neue Galerie in Manhattan for $135 million. It is the highest price known to
have been paid for a painting, eclipsing the $104.1 million paid for
Picasso’s 1905 “Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)’’ in an auction at
Sotheby’s in 2004.

All five Klimts are currently on view at the Neue and have been attracting
large crowds. “None of us is in a position to keep them,’’ Mrs. Altmann said
in a telephone interview from her home in Los Angeles.

For months now, said Steven Thomas, the lawyer representing the Bloch-Bauer
heirs, both Christie’s and its archrival Sotheby’s have been making
overtures to Mrs. Altmann and her relatives about selling the paintings. But
it was only in the last few weeks that the negotiations really heated up.

“It was actually competitive to the end,’’ Mr. Thomas said. The final
decision was based primarily on relationships, he added: Stephen S. Lash,
chairman of Christie’s in America, grew up in Fall River, Mass., where Mrs.
Altmann and husband lived in the early 1940’s. Mr. Lash has been in constant
touch with Mrs. Altmann since she initiated the efforts to recover the
paintings. And Christie’s had been enlisted by Mr. Lauder to help him
negotiate the purchase of “Adele Bloch-Bauer I.’’

For most of the last 60 years the paintings had hung in the Austrian Gallery
of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna near “The Kiss,’’ another lustrous
gold-flecked Klimt masterpiece of the Art Nouveau era.

The Nazis seized them from one of the Bloch-Bauers’ palaces in Vienna. They
had been hanging in a bedroom that Mr. Bloch-Bauer had turned into a kind of
shrine to his wife after she died of meningitis in 1925. “He took the bed
out, and there were always fresh flowers,’’ Mrs. Altmann recalled.

She said she traveled to Vienna this summer to see the house, where she had
spent much time in her youth. “It was not recognizable,’’ she said. “It no
longer had the look of a palace, now its just a house of business. I went in
and tried to find the bedroom, but I couldn’t find anything that reminded me
of a bedroom.’’

Since Mr. Lauder announced he had bought “Adele Bloch-Bauer I’’ for the Neue
Galerie, which he helped to found five years ago, there has been speculation
that he might buy the other paintings. On Friday he said in a telephone
interview that he would consider purchasing one or more “if the price is
right.’’

“They’re all great pictures,’’ Mr. Lauder added. “Each one would have
something to add to the Neue Galerie’s collection. But if the buyer is not
the Neue Galerie, I hope they will end up in other museums.’’

Asked which he would most like to buy, Mr. Lauder replied, “Adele
Bloch-Bauer II,’’ a later (1912) and far different portrait of the Viennese
salon hostess. In “Adele Bloch-Bauer I’’ she is depicted in a regal setting,
clad in an exotic richly patterned gold gown and posed against a tapestry of
gold decorations.

In the 1912 portrait she wears fashionable street clothes, including a
wide-brimmed hat, and stands before a brightly colored floral background.
Japanese motifs like warrior horses appear in the rear top portion of the
canvas.

Art historians and chroniclers of Vienna society in the early 20th century
have long suspected that Klimt and Mrs. Bloch-Bauer were lovers. This theory
is shared by Mrs. Altmann, who remembers her aunt well, although she was
just 9 when Mrs. Bloch-Bauer died. Klimt made hundreds of preparatory
drawings of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer for the portraits.

Mrs. Altmann said she doubted that the brightly colored dress in the 1912
portrait was really her aunt’s. “She never dressed loudly,’’ she said. “I
always remember her wearing long, simple white dresses and holding a gold
cigarette holder. I don’t remember anything like the dress in the picture.’’

Mrs. Altmann said she had no particular favorite among the Klimt paintings.
“When you grow up with something, you are so used to it,’’ she said. “There
were so many other beautiful things in the house, like porcelains, furniture
and other paintings. I personally love the landscapes.’’

The earliest, “Birch Forest’’ from 1903, is an Austrian landscape rendered
in rich autumnal colors. “It’s quite an intense picture,’’ said Guy Bennett,
head of Impressionist and modern paintings at Christie’s in New York, “and
one of the few wood scenes Klimt painted.” He added that it is “comparable
in quality to another of his landscapes,” hanging in the Moderne Galerie in
Dresden.

Another landscape, “Apple Tree I’’ (circa 1912), shows the tree in full
flower in shimmering pinks and reds, its branches spread wide: for Klimt, a
symbol of the tree of life.

The remaining landscape, “Houses at Unterach on the Attersee,’’ was painted
around 1916 on the south shore of a resort town on a lake in the countryside
east of Salzburg where Klimt spent the summers of 1914, 1915 and 1916. A
portion of the town is shown from across the lake, in a style influenced by
Cézanne’s geometric renderings of Mont Sainte-Victoire.

Mrs. Altmann said it did not matter to her whether Christie’s arranges an
auction or private sales of the Klimts, which remain on view at the Neue
Galerie through Sept. 18. “I’ve never been to an auction, so I think it
would be exciting,’’ she said.

“I’m simply hoping for the best,’’ she added. “So far fate has been very
good to me.’’
 
 
 

Klimt Paintings Nazis Stole to Be Sold

Monday August 7, 2006 6:46 PM

AP Photo NYR104

NEW YORK (AP) - Four of five oil paintings by Gustav Klimt that were the focus of a restitution battle between the Austrian government and the artworks' Jewish heirs will be heading to Christie's for sale this fall, the auction house announced Monday.

Christie's has not determined whether the works - three landscapes and a portrait worth an estimated $100 million - will be auctioned or sold privately, said Steven Thomas, the Los Angeles attorney who represents the heirs.

``The family only recently decided to go ahead and sell the four paintings,'' Thomas said. ``It's quite possible some or all of them will go to auction in November.''

The four paintings are currently on display at the Neue Galerie, a New York museum of German and Austrian art, along with one of Klimt's most famous works, an ornate portrait of Viennese art patron Adele Bloch-Bauer from 1907.

The five Klimts were handed over by Austria in January to Maria Altmann of Los Angeles, Bloch-Bauer's niece, and other family members following a seven-year legal battle. An arbitration court had ruled that they were improperly seized when the Nazis took over the country during World War II.

The paintings temporarily went on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from April to June, when cosmetics mogul Ronald S. Lauder purchased the gold-flecked portrait of Bloch-Bauer for a reported $135 million, topping the previous listed world art record of $104.2 million for a Picasso.

The other portrait to be sold at Christie's is a lesser-known, colorful portrait of Bloch-Bauer executed between 1903 and 1916.

Asked why the Bloch-Bauer heirs were selling the paintings after fighting for years to get them, Thomas said, ``The family worked very hard to get back what had been stolen from them. These paintings are extremely valuable and require lots of security, and none of the heirs are in a position to keep the paintings, as much as they might want to.''

Lauder, the co-founder of the Neue Galerie, was out of the country and not available for comment on Monday.

He told The New York Times in Monday editions that he would consider purchasing one or more of the available paintings ``if the price is right.''

``They're all great pictures,'' Lauder said. ``Each one would have something to add to the Neue Galerie's collection. But if the buyer is not the Neue Galerie, I hope they will end up in other museums.''

Altmann said it did not matter to her whether Christie's arranges an auction or private sales of the Klimts.

``I've never been to an auction, so I think it would be exciting,'' Altmann said. ``I'm simply hoping for the best. So far fate has been very good to me.''

---

On the Net:

www.christies.com
 

Christie's Will Seek Private Buyers for 4 Klimt Paintings

Aug. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Christie's International said it will advise heirs of
a Nazi victim on a private sale of four Gustav Klimt paintings, including a
portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a Viennese art patron and wife of a Jewish
sugar industrialist.

The four paintings have been valued at as much as $140 million by art
experts including Richard L. Feigen, a New York dealer. The cosmetics
magnate Ronald S. Lauder bought a fifth Klimt work recovered by the heirs
and known as ``Golden Adele,'' for $135 million in June. It is on display at
New York's Neue Galerie, which Lauder co-founded.

London-based Christie's, which is owned by the French billionaire Francois
Pinault, has set top prices for many German and Austrian artists. In
November, it will offer Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's painting of a Berlin street
scene, returned by the German city to heirs of a Jewish family who owned it
before World War II, for as much as $25 million.

Christie's spokeswoman Catherine Manson said she couldn't yet confirm an
estimated value for the four Klimt works, which include three landscape
pictures.

The world's largest auction house had sales of $3.2 billion in 2005, an
increase of 38 percent from a year earlier.

The Bloch-Bauer paintings, stolen by the Nazis in 1938, previously hung in
Vienna's Belvedere museum. They were restored in January to California's
Maria Altmann and other heirs after a court fight with the Austrian
government. Adele Bloch-Bauer may have been Klimt's mistress, said the Neue
Galerie, which is showing all five Klimt works through Sept. 18.

Pricey Adele

Lauder's 1907 ``Adele Bloch-Bauer I,'' painted with gold in the background
and fabric of Adele's dress after Klimt saw Ravenna's Byzantine mosaics,
cost more than any painting sold at auction. Pablo Picasso's ``Dora Maar au
Chat'' sold for $95.2 million in May in New York, about 9 percent less than
a Picasso work that went for $104.2 million in 2004.

Klimt's auction record was set in 2003 when a landscape, ``Landhaus am
Attersee,'' raised $29.1 million. A Klimt painting of birch trees sold in
2004 for $3.7 million. Portraits usually command higher prices.

Klimt, who died in 1918, may be best known for ``The Kiss.'' He attended
Vienna's school of arts and crafts, and decorated some of the city's public
buildings. Ornamental layouts, golden backgrounds and eroticism are his
trademarks.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Linda Sandler in London at  lsandler@bloomberg.net

Christie's verkauft Klimt-Bilder - Wert: 100 Mio. Dollar
zurück
Bloch-Bauer-Erbin Maria Altmann wird die vier verbliebenen Klimt-Bilder, die
zusammen mit der "Goldenen Adele" ("Adele Bloch-Bauer 1") an sie restituiert
wurden, mit Unterstützung des New Yorker Auktionshauses Christie's
verkaufen.

Die vier Gemälde kommen insgesamt auf einen Schätzwert von 100 Millionen
Dollar (77,8 Mio. Euro), wie die "New York Times" heute berichtet. Eine
Sprecherin von Christie's in Wien bestätigte diese Summe.

Mehr dazu in oesterreich.ORF.at

Art des Verkaufs offen
Nähere Details zu Art und Zeitpunkt des Verkaufs, den das Auktionshaus
Christie's in New York organisieren wird, stünden noch nicht fest. Die
Entscheidung, ob die Werke privat verkauft oder versteigert würden, werde
ausschließlich von der Erbin selbst getroffen, so die Sprecherin weiter. In
der "New York Times" wird Altmann zitiert: "Ich war noch nie bei einer
Auktion und glaube, dass das aufregend wäre."

Bis 18. September ausgestellt
Derzeit befinden sich die Bilder "Adele Bloch-Bauer 2", "Häuser in Unterach
am Attersee", "Buchenwald" und "Apfelbaum 1" in der New Yorker Neuen
Galerie, wo sie gemeinsam mit der von Ronald Lauder gekauften "Goldenen
Adele" noch bis 18. September präsentiert werden.

"Christie's wurde ausgewählt, die Erben von Ferdinand und Adele Bloch-Bauer
beim Verkauf zu beraten", heißt es in der Aussendung. Auch eine Auktion
schließt man bei Christie's in Wien nicht aus.

     Klimt-Bilder      07.08.2006
            Christie's als Verkaufsberater
Die "Goldene Adele" wurde bei Sotheby's um einen Rekordpreis versteigert.
Für die anderen vier Klimt-Bilder, die an die Bloch-Bauer-Erbin Maria
Altmann restituiert wurden, wird das New Yorker Auktionshaus Christie's
Verkaufsberater.
 
 
                Privatverkauf wahrscheinlich
Das New Yorker Auktionshaus Christie's wird Maria Altmann beim Verkauf der
verbliebenen vier Klimt-Bilder unterstützen. Dies geht aus einer Aussendung
von Christie's hervor.

Ein Privatverkauf sei dabei wahrscheinlich, hieß es auf Nachfrage bei
Christie's in Wien. Dort erwartet man Details auf Grund der Zeitverschiebung
zu den USA erst am frühen Nachmittag.
 
                Kilmt derzeit in Ausstellung zu sehen
Derzeit befinden sich die Bilder "Adele Bloch-Bauer 2", "Häuser in Unterach
am Attersee", "Buchenwald" und "Apfelbaum 1" in der New Yorker Neuen
Galerie, wo sei gemeinsam mit der von Ronald Lauder gekauften "Goldenen
Adele" noch bis 18. September präsentiert werden.
 
 
                Auktion nicht ausgeschlossen
"Christie's wurde ausgewählt, die Erben von Ferdinand und Adele Bloch-Bauer
beim Verkauf zu beraten", heißt es in der Aussendung. Auch eine Auktion
schließt man bei Christie's in Wien nicht aus.
 
                wien.ORF.at; 19.6.06
Im Juni wurde die "Goldene Adele" versteigert. Der Ex-US-Botschafter in
Wien, Ronald Lauder, hat die "Goldene Adele" um 107 Millionen Euro gekauft.
So viel ist noch nie für ein Gemälde gezahlt worden.
    "Goldene Adele" erreichte Rekordpreis