Klimt’s ‘last masterpiece’ poised to fetch $80 million

[18-06-2023 11:30 AM]

Ammon News - The last portrait completed by Gustav Klimt is expected to fetch around $80 million when it goes on sale in London later this month — the highest estimate ever given to an artwork at a European auction.

Depicting an unidentified female subject, “Dame mit Fächer” (Lady with a Fan) was one of two paintings found at the Austrian artist’s studio upon his death in 1918, according to Sotheby’s auction house.

Announcing the sale Wednesday, Sotheby’s dubbed the portrait Klimt’s “last masterpiece.” The auction house’s head of impressionist and modern art evening sales, Thomas Boyd Bowman, meanwhile described it as “stunning.”

“The beauty and sensuality of the portrait lies in the detail: the flecks of blue and pink which enliven the sitter’s skin, the feathery lines of her eyelashes and the pursed lips that give her face character,” he said in a press release.

Started in 1917, “Dame mit Fächer” is rendered in Klimt’s characteristically rich, expressive style. Like much of his output, it showcases the East Asian influences that shaped his work — not only in the fan held by his unknown sitter, but also the use of phoenix and lotus blossom motifs. The background’s flattened perspective meanwhile evokes the Japanese wood-block prints that featured prominently in the painter’s sizable Asian art collection.

Most of Klimt’s best-known works (including his iconic “The Kiss”) emerged from his earlier “Golden Phase,” in which he often incorporated gold leaf into his art. This period of his career was finished by the turn of the 1910s. But Klimt was, at the time of this death aged 55, in his “artistic prime and producing some of his most accomplished and experimental works,” Sotheby’s head of impressionist and modern art Helena Newman said in a statement.

“Dame mit Fächer” is one of the few Klimt portraits still in private hands. Unusually, it is square-shaped, measuring roughly one meter (3.3 feet) in both height and width. Newman also noted that — unlike many of Klimt’s best-known portraits — the work was not a commission, meaning it was likely painted for his own pleasure.

“This … is something completely different — a technical tour de force, full of boundary-pushing experimentation, as well as a heartfelt ode to absolute beauty,” she said.

The painting was previously owned by Viennese industrialist Erwin Böhle, a friend and patron of Klimt’s. It was later purchased by art collector Rudolf Leopold, who sold it to the current owner’s family at Sotheby’s in 1994 for under $12 million, according to the Artnet database. The painting has not appeared at auction since, though it was exhibited last year at The Belvedere, an Austrian museum housing “The Kiss” and several other important Klimt works.

Klimt’s paintings have exploded in value over the last two decades. The Austrian is now among only a handful of artists whose works have sold for nine-figure sums. The auction record for a Klimt is currently held by “Birch Forest,” once owned by late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, which fetched $104.5 million last year following the US billionaire’s death.

Other works are thought to have sold privately for even more. According to the Financial Times, court documents from an ongoing legal dispute between the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and art dealer Yves Bouvier showed that the oligarch once purchased Klimt’s “Wasserschlangen II” (Water Serpents II) for $183.8 million.

Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” was meanwhile bought by US businessman Ronald Lauder for a reported $135 million in 2006. Ten years later, Oprah Winfrey sold another depiction of the same subject, “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II,” to a Chinese buyer for $150 million, according to Bloomberg.

“Dame mit Fächer” is the star lot in Sotheby’s modern and contemporary art summer auction, which takes place on June 27. Timed to coincide with the long-awaited reopening of London’s National Portrait Gallery, the auction will feature other portraits by prominent artists, including Alberto Giacometti and Edvard Munch.

The sale comes amid fears that the auction market is cooling following an initially buoyant recovery from Covid-19. The latest edition of UBS and Art Basel’s annual market report found that global auction revenues, having surged by 47% in 2021, declined by 1% last year.


  • no comments

All comments are reviewed and posted only if approved.
Ammon News reserves the right to delete any comment at any time, and for any reason, and will not publish any comment containing offense or deviating from the subject at hand, or to include the names of any personalities or to stir up sectarian, sectarian or racial strife, hoping to adhere to a high level of the comments as they express The extent of the progress and culture of Ammon News' visitors, noting that the comments are expressed only by the owners.
name : *
show email
comment : *
Verification code : Refresh
write code :