Gustav Klimt portrait sold for $32 million at Vienna auction | Arts and Culture News

Portrait of Miss Rieser, a painting of a young woman left unfinished by Klimt upon his death, was long believed to have been lost.

Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of a Young Woman, long believed to have been lost, has sold for 30 million euros (approximately $32 million) at auction in Vienna.

The Austrian modernist artist began work on Portrait of Miss Rieser in 1917, the year before his death, and it was one of his last works. Bidding started at 28 million euros (about $29 million), and Wednesday’s sale price was at the lower end of the expected range of 30 million to 50 million euros (about $32 million to $53 million). The purchaser has not been identified.

“A painting of such rarity, artistic significance and value has not been available on the Central European art market for decades,” said Yim Kinski, the auction house responsible for the sale.

The richly colored painting is being auctioned on behalf of its current owners, an unnamed Austrian private citizen and the legal heirs of Adolf and Henriette Rieser, one of whom commissioned the painting. It is believed that he did.

It is not entirely clear which member of the Rieser family was the model.

People take photos of Gustav Klimt’s painting “Woman with a Fan” on display at Sotheby’s auction hall in London. [File: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP]

According to the auction house, when Klimt died of a stroke in early 1918, the painting remained in his studio, with small parts unfinished, and was handed over to the family that commissioned it.

The Jewish family fled Austria after 1930, losing most of their property.

It is unclear exactly what happened to the painting between 1925 and the 1960s, which included the Nazi dictatorship. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938.

The auction house says there is no evidence that the painting was confiscated at the time, but there is also no evidence that it was not confiscated. After three inheritances, it became the current owner.

Given the uncertainty, the current owners and the heirs of the Rieser family have decided to build on the Washington Principles, which were drafted in 1998 to help resolve issues related to the return of art confiscated by the Nazis. An agreement was drawn up to proceed with the sale.

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Visitors stand in front of Klimt’s painting of Amalie Zuckerkandl at the Moritzburg Museum in Halle, central Germany. [File: Jens Meyer/AP]

Last year, Klimt’s late masterpiece “Lady with a Fan” sold for 85.3 million British pounds ($108.4 million), the highest price ever sold at auction in Europe.

Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” sold for $87.9 million at auction in New York in 2006, and his landscape painting “Birch Forest” sold for $104.6 million at Christie’s in New York in 2022. The bid was made at

Two more portraits of him are reported to have sold privately for more than $100 million.

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