The portrait was auctioned off for $32 million

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A portrait of a young woman by Gustav Klimt that was long believed to be lost was sold at an auction in Vienna on Wednesday for $32 million.
Bidding started at 28 million euros, and the sale price was at the lower end of an expected range of 30-50 million euros.
The auction house said the woman in the portrait visited Klimt’s studio nine times to pose for the artist.
Klimt left the painting, with small parts unfinished, in his studio when he died of a stroke in early 1918.
It was then given to the family who had commissioned it, according to the auction house.
The auction house says there is no evidence that the painting was confiscated during the Nazi period, but also no proof that it wasn’t.
The auction house said it was very happy with Wednesday’s result.
The highest price previously paid at an auction in the country was just over 7 million euros for a work by Frans Francken the Younger in 2010.


Gustav Klimt’s long-thought-to-be-lost portrait of a young woman brought in $32 million on Wednesday at an auction in Vienna.

One of the final pieces created by the Austrian modernist artist, “Portrait of Fräulein Lieser” was begun in 1917—the year before he passed away. The sale price was at the lower end of an anticipated range of 30–50 million euros, with bidding beginning at 28 million euros.

An unidentified bidder from Hong Kong won the painting.

“A painting of such rarity, artistic significance, and value has not been available on the art market in Central Europe for decades,” the Im Kinsky auction house stated. ****.

Brightly colored, the painting was put up for auction on behalf of its current owners, private citizens from Austria whose identities were kept a secret, as well as the legal heirs of Adolf and Henriette Lieser, wealthy Jewish clients of Klimt’s who, it is thought, commissioned the painting. According to some experts, the woman in the painting might have been one of the family’s several women. Who “Fräulein Lieser” really is remains a mystery.

The woman in the portrait reportedly went to Klimt’s studio nine times to be photographed by the artist, according to the auction house.

When Klimt passed away in his studio at the beginning of 1918 from a stroke, he had left the painting partially completed. The auction house claims that it was subsequently delivered to the family who had ordered it.

The Jewish family lost the majority of their belongings when they left Austria after 1930.

What exactly happened to the painting between 1925 and the 1960s—during which the Nazi dictatorship was in effect—is unknown. In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed Austria. A black-and-white photo of the portrait, presumably taken in 1925, with the notation, “1925 in possession of Mrs. Lieser, IV, Argentinierstrasse 20,” is one of the few hints. Before the painting reappeared early in 2024, having presumably been privately owned by a collector for decades, there was no other evidence of its existence.

According to the auction house, there isn’t any proof that the painting was taken during the Nazi era, but there is also no proof that it wasn’t. Through three successive inheritances, the current owners are the ones who ended up with it.

The New York Times quoted Ernst Ploil, co-chief executive of the Im Kinsky auction house, as saying, “Every form of taking away during the Nazi time has to be treated as unlawful.”.

Given the uncertainty, a deal was negotiated to proceed with the sale under the Washington Principles, which were formulated in 1998 to help resolve issues pertaining to the return of Nazi-confiscated art, with the current owners and the heirs of the Liesers.

The auction house expressed its happiness with Wednesday’s outcome.

The amount sold set a record for Austrian art auction sales. The 2010 auction of a piece by Frans Francken the Younger brought in slightly more than 7 million euros, the highest amount ever paid in the nation.

The author of this report is Caitlin O’Kane.

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