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Humboldt Storage and Moving Company Moves Paintings over $225 Million

Published on: September 29th, 2006 12:06am by: swhitey

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Canton, MA (OPENPRESS) September 29, 2006 -- International cosmetics magnate
Ronald S. Lauder contracted Humboldt to move the most expensive painting
ever purchased along with three other paintings by Gustav Klimt, Austria’s
most revered artist, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the Neau
Gallery in Manhattan. The painting, “Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” is a gold-flecked
portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish sugar industrialist and
hostess of a prominent Vienna salon. Lauder paid $135 million for the piece.
Previously, the largest sum ever paid for a painting was $104.1 million for
Picasso’s “Boy With a Pipe” (1905). “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” along with the
three other Klimt paintings involved in the move were on display through
Sept. 13. at the Neau Gallery’s exhibition “Gustav Klimt: Five Paintings
from the Collection of Ferdinand and Adele Bloch-Bauer.”

The move was Humboldt’s most complex undertaking to date logistically,
equipment-wise and personnel-wise. It involved two full-sized,
climate-controlled tractor-trailers staffed by six truck drivers driving
round-the-clock shifts and an eight-person armed security detail traveling
in four security vans provided by Safir Rosetti Security, a security firm
run by the former police commissioner of New York City. Instrumentation
within the custom-made crates also provided temperature and humidity
readings to the entire team throughout transit. The tractor-trailers were
outfitted with GPS tracking devices, which were monitored via the Internet.
The trailers were specially sealed and secured by locks that could only be
opened by Lauder.

Drivers were not informed of the cargo they’d be handling until the night
before the move and were informed of two possible routes they might use. It
wasn’t until the morning of the move that they were informed which route
they would use. The entire trip was estimated to take 59 hours, however,
thanks to efficiencies with which the Humboldt team operated, it was
completed it in 53 hours.

“For us to be asked to do this was a real honor,” says Howard Goldman, CEO
of Humboldt Storage and Moving Company. “I am very pleased, but not
surprised, with how we were able to handle the unusual demands of this job.
And I’m also very pleased that our client Mr. Lauder and the Neau Gallery
were extremely happy with us and how we handled everything. The paintings
traveled over 3000 miles and arrived in perfect condition, and we did it all
in 53 hours instead of the 59 they were expecting.”

“When you think of all the things that could have gone wrong—a hijacking,
bad weather, an accident or even someone setting up a roadblock in
Wyoming—it’s amazing how smoothly the operation went. Save for a panhandler
that came up to one of the trucks asking for money while we were parked
briefly at one of the rest stops, the move went off completely without a
hitch…poor guy, he was surrounded within seconds of approaching the truck by
all eight security guards with semi-automatic weapons."

Considered one of Klimt’s finest masterpieces, Lauder’s purchase and
relocation of the painting to the Neau Gallery represented the final leg of
a long and contested journey. For years following World War II, the
painting, along with the four other Klimt pieces— a second portrait of Adele
from 1911 and three landscapes: “Beechwood” (1903), “Apple Tree I” (circa
1911) and “Houses in Utterach on Lake Atter” (1916)—was the focus of a
restitution battle between the Austrian government and a niece of
Bloch-Bauer, 90-year-old Maria Altmann, formerly of Austria, who now lives
with other family members in Los Angeles. For the last 60 years, the
portrait hung in the Austrian Gallery in the Belvedere Palace in Vienna.
Mrs. Bloch-Bauer died of meningitis in 1925 and Mr. Bloch-Bauer left all his
possessions behind when he fleed the country following Germany’s annexation
of Austria in March 1938. The Nazis subsequently confiscated his property,
placing three of the paintings in the Austrian Gallery and selling the rest.

In her original will, Mrs. Bloch-Bauer left the paintings to Austria, but
after spending the war years in Switzerland, Mr. Bloch-Bauer revoked all
existing wills and since the couple had no children, he wrote a new will
leaving the entire estate to the children of his brother Gustav: Robert,
Luise and Maria, the only one of the three siblings still living. In years
following the war, Maria and her surviving family members were able to
regain some of paintings and other valuables from Bloch-Bauer estate, but
the government of Austria maintained that Mrs. Bloch-Bauer had bequeathed
the entire estate to the government of Austria. The family didn’t have a
case against the Austrian government until a Viennese journalist by the name
of Hubertus Czernin recovered Mrs. Bloch-Bauer’s original will in 1998. In
it, she expressed a wish, but did not require, that the Klimt paintings go
to Austria. The family then asked and was granted the right to sue the
Austrian government in the U.S. by U.S. Supreme Court. In June 2004, the
high court ruled the family could sue Austria. The case was finally decided
in favor of the family at an Austrian arbitration tribunal in January 2005.
In addition to “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” the family recovered the other
aforementioned paintings.

Lauder came to purchase the painting as a result of a friendship that had
developed between he and Maria over the years. “Adele I” will remain at the
Neau Gallery, of which Lauder is a co-founder. The future of the other
paintings, estimated to have a collective value of around $100 million, is
uncertain but will likely end up on the auction block at Christy’s.

Humboldt Storage and Moving is located at 100 New Boston Drive, Canton, MA
02021. For more information or free brochures outlining the company’s many
services, please call (781) 821-8777. For additional information visit
http://www.humboldt.com

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Industry: Transportation, More Press Releases from Transportation

Country: United States, More Press Releases from United States

MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area): Boston, MA-NH, More Press Releases from
Boston, MA-NH

Company: Humboldt Storage & Moving

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