19 June 2006

Klimt et al.

The NY Times has today an article detailing the acquisition of Klimt's portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (pictured left). Ronald S. Lauder purchased the piece for the Neue Galerie in Manhattan; it cost $135 million, the largest sum ever paid for a painting.
"This is our Mona Lisa," said Mr. Lauder, a founder of the five-year-old Neue Galerie, a tiny museum at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street devoted entirely to German and Austrian fine and decorative arts.
The painting was acquired after a protracted negotiation with the Austrian government. The Nazis had seized the painting from the Bloch-Bauers in 1938 and since then its home was the Austrian Gallery. A niece of Adele Bloch-Bauer, Maria Altmann (90 years-old!), finally gained satisfaction in 2004, when the US Supreme Court ruled that she could sue the Austrian government from the US.

Did you know?

Gustav Klimt painted a portrait of Wittgenstein's sister, Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein (pictured right). Besides having painters hanging about the rarefied household, the Wittgensteins hosted composers such as Mahler and Brahms. Wittgenstein's brother, Paul, was quite the pianist until he lost his right arm in the first World War. He commissioned Hindemith, Prokofiev, Britten and Ravel to write pieces for left-hand only.