Christie's May Get $140 Million for Four Klimt Paintings

By Linda Sandler

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Christie's International said it will auction four
Gustav Klimt paintings owned by heirs of a Nazi victim for as much as $140
million in New York on Nov. 8.

The pictures will be part of a $330 million sale of impressionist and modern
art, Christie's biggest ever. The most expensive Klimt is a portrait of
Adele Bloch-Bauer, a Viennese art patron and wife of a Jewish sugar
industrialist, valued at $40 million to $60 million, Christie's said in a
statement. Three landscapes have combined estimates of $53 million to $80

The art boom has swelled business for auction houses and is bringing out
sellers who may be expecting prices to decline as the world economy slows.
Other works for sale come from collections by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Paul
Mellon, Johnny Carson and Otto Preminger.

``The addition of these four powerful artworks in our November sale will
make it Christie's New York's most important auction ever,'' said the
auction house's New York-based president, Marc Porter, in the statement.

The cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder bought a fifth Klimt work recovered
by the Bloch-Bauer heirs and known as ``Golden Adele,'' for $135 million in
June. It is on display with the other four Klimts through Oct. 9 at New
York's Neue Galerie, which Lauder co-founded.

London-based Christie's, which is owned by the French billionaire Francois
Pinault, may have initially sought private buyers for the four Klimts. In
August, Christie's said it had been hired by the heirs and might sell them

Top Prices

Christie's 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.

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

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Linda Sandler in London at
Last Updated: September 16, 2006 04:15 EDT

New York Times
4 Returned Klimt Works Heading to Auction

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Published: September 16, 2006

Four of five paintings by Gustav Klimt that were relinquished by Austria
this year after a long legal battle are to be auctioned on Nov. 8 at
Christie’s, officials said yesterday, instead of sold privately.

The paintings, on view through Oct. 9 at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan, will
be offered at an evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art, Christie’s
officials said.

The works were originally purchased for the collection of the Jewish sugar
industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer and his wife, Adele, whose
turn-of-the-century salon attracted prominent artists, writers, musicians
and politicians in Vienna.

An arbitration court ruled in January that the paintings were improperly
seized when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938. All five were then handed
over to a niece of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer, Maria Altmann of Los Angeles, and other
family members.

In June the cosmetics executive Ronald S. Lauder bought the best-known of
the five, a gold-flecked portrait of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer from 1907, for the
Neue Galerie for $135 million. It is the highest price known to have been
paid for a painting. Since then there has been much speculation about the
future of the other Klimts.

The four works, which are together valued at nearly $100 million, include
“Adele Bloch-Bauer II,” a 1912 portrait of Mrs. Bloch-Bauer in fashionable
street clothes and a wide-brimmed hat. Christie’s estimates that it could
fetch $40 million to $60 million.

The other three are landscapes. “Birch Forest” (1903), one of Klimt’s few
wood scenes, is expected to fetch $20 million to $30 million, Christie’s
said. Another landscape, “Apple Tree I” from around 1912, depicting a
blooming tree, is estimated at $15 million to $25 million. “Houses in
Unterach on the Attersee” (1916), a view of a resort town in the Austrian
countryside, is estimated at $18 million to $25 million.

Marc Porter, president of Christie’s, said that museums in the United States
and Europe had contacted the auction house to express interest in the
Klimts, but he declined to be more specific. “Some of them may well end up
in museums,” he said.