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Klimt’s last portrait sold at highest among European artwork

Klimt’s last portrait sold at highest among European artwork

Posted June. 29, 2023 07:56,   

Updated June. 29, 2023 07:56


The last portrait by Gustav Klimt, known as the painter of gold, was sold off on auction held on Tuesday (local time) at the highest price ever for European artwork.

Sotheby's auction house said that “Lady with a Fan,” one of the two paintings by Klimt before he passed away, was sold at 85.3 million pounds at an auction held in London. The price breaks the “Walking ManⅠ” record by Alberto Giacometti, which was sold off at 14.32 million dollars at a Sotheby's auction in London in February 2010. It was higher than Sotheby’s estimated price of 80 million dollars.

“Lady with a Fan” had been sold at a Sotheby's auction in New York in 1994 at 11.6 million dollars. The price had increased by almost 10 times in 30 years. Sotheby's said that the painting was purchased by former Sotheby's Chair Patty Wong. She is known to have participated in the auction through a Hong Kong collector.

The painting was discovered on an easel in Klimt’s atelier when he passed away from pneumonia after passing out from cerebral infarction at the age of 56 in 1918. His friend and patron Erwin Bohler had owned the painting, which was passed on to a collector and made its appearance in the auction market in 1994.

The portrait reflects Klimt’s unique characteristics of interest in fashion, fabric, and Oriental culture. The model exposes her shoulders, wearing an Oriental dress with a phoenix on it. Sotheby's praised the painting, referring to it as a “masterpiece of the artist at his height” and saying it was “full of experimental tries to go beyond borders.”

Jeong-Soo Hong hong@donga.com