Art and Culture

Klimt painting sets European record with $108 million price tag at Sotheby's auction in London

The piece sold Tuesday was the last portrait Gustav Klimt completed before his death in 1918

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File

A late-life masterpiece by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt sold Tuesday for 85.3 million pounds ($108.4 million), making it the most expensive artwork ever auctioned in Europe.

“Dame mit Fächer” — Lady with a Fan — sold to a buyer in the room at Sotheby's in London after a 10-minute bidding war for a hammer price of 74 million pounds ($94.35 million). The higher final figure includes a charge on top of the sale price known as the buyer's premium.

The sale price well exceeded the presale estimate of 65 million pounds, or $80 million.

It also beat the previous European auction record of $104.3 million — 65 million pounds at the time — including buyer's premium paid for Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture “Walking Man I” at Sotheby’s in 2010. Previously, the most expensive painting auctioned in Europe was Claude Monet’s “Le basin aux nymphéas,” which fetched $80.4 million at a Christie’s sale in 2008.

The piece sold Tuesday was the last portrait Klimt completed before his death in 1918. The painting shows an unidentified woman against a resplendent, China-influenced backdrop of dragons and lotus blossoms.

It was last sold in 1994, going for $11.6 million at an auction in New York.

Sotheby's said the buyer was art adviser Patti Wong, acting on behalf of a Hong Kong collector.

Famed for his bold, daring art nouveau paintings, Klimt was a key figure in artistic modernism at the start of the 20th century. His work has fetched some of the highest prices for any artist.

Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” sold at a New York auction in 2006 for $87.9 million, and his landscape “Birch Forest” sold at Christie's in New York last year for $104.6 million.

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

The world auction record for an artwork is the $450.3 million paid in 2017 for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” though some experts dispute whether the panting of Jesus Christ is wholly the work of the Renaissance master.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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