Most Expensive Painting by Gustav Klimt

The famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt has reportedly set a record for the most expensive painting to be sold. The 1907 iconic work “Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I” has sold for $135 million dollars.
The billionaire cosmetics heir to the Estée Lauder fortune, Ronald S Lauder snapped the painting up to be exhibited in a museum in New York.
The painting was stolen by the Nazis in 1938 from the aunt and uncle of Maria Altmann. Maria only recently became the owner of the painting this year after reclaiming it. The work had been hanging in the National Gallery of Austria for the past 60 years.

most expensive paintingBillionaire’s Museum Pays ‘Record’ For Painting
“It was important to the heirs and to my Aunt Adele that her painting be displayed in a museum,” Altmann said in a publicized statement after the sale. “We chose a museum that is a bridge between Europe and the United States.” Forbes

See more information on the painting and the New York gallery at their website here.
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About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Take that Picasso!
    Klimt may be famous, but he’s not a household name like Picasso or Van Gogh. So it’s interesting that he now claims the title of “most expensive painting”.

  2. …but what makes it worth $135 million dollars?

  3. Well,commenterry, assuming that the information is accurate, I suppose it is worth 135 million because someone was willing to pay the money.
    In a survey of art critics, historians, curators, dealers, and other notables ca 1950, ten were chosen as the best artists in the U.S.Today, the best works still in private hands by most of them can be purchased for under 25,000. Why? Because that is the most anyone has to pay to get one when it comes onto the market.
    To be fair,I saw that a Hollywood actress who was opening on Broadway a few months ago, is paid 20 million dollars to make a film. I will bet that Judith Anderson, Helen Hayes, Katherine Cornell, not to mention Lynn Fontanne, Julie Harris, or….ever made the then equivalent of that sum for any of their stage work.In their case, it is the nature of the market as for stage productions as opposed to films.
    Do any of us really believe Andy Warhol to be superior to Pissarro, Bonnard, Vuillard, to name only a few? Is that youngster who graduated Yale Fine Arts, three years ago, really superior to, say Will Barnett, Paul Cadmus,or David Davidovich Burliuk, to pick only three being sold consistently in the art marketplace these days?
    At any rate, at least it can be said of Picasso, Klimt Matisse (for one of whose pictures a patron of MOMA recently put up 25 million)and many fine, and many more very good artists, that when they finally did begin getting paid something for their pictures, they had learned their craft thoroughly, were masters, no longer apprentices or journeymen.
    Were it not that anything goes today in the age of pluralistic standards, of dissensus on the qualities which must inhere in a work of art for it to be judged meritorious, one might look to the artistic world for measures of worth. Lacking that,for good or ill in other respects, say the aesthetic, market value, status enhancement and unreflective pleasure, will remain the guidelines for those who buy, those who mount exhibitions, and those who choose to view, works of art.Hopefully, there will remain some segment of art craftsmen, or if you prefer, art professionals, who will support and preserve contributions to our heritage as Arabic (and some other) scholars preserved classic works of the West. One can only hope that the museums of this and other countries will see to it that the pictures they own but never show these days are given the care they need to survive.

  4. Yeah, if someone is willing to pay it, it’s worth it for the buyer. It may or may not be a bargain, but only the market will tell.

    Here’s some quotes by Robert Hughes about buying art..

    Art prices are determined by the meeting of real or induced scarcity with pure, irrational desire, and nothing is more manipulable than desire.

    The auction room, as anyone knows, is an excellent medium for sustaining fictional price levels, because the public imagines that auction prices are necessarily real prices.

    A fair price is the highest one a collector can be induced to pay.

  5. Hi, i have seen your site. It’s really very educated one for painters. The topics are vast and interesting.

  6. Hi Ajit
    Thanks for the kind words.

    The people leaving comments on posts make the blog a lot more interesting too.

  7. I can’t believe anyone would pay so much for that . That’s just amazing

  8. The quote,

    “The auction room, as anyone knows, is an excellent medium for sustaining fictional price levels, because the public imagines that auction prices are necessarily real prices.”

    How very true and as someone commented only the market will determine its true value.

    It is amazing today what artworks are fetching both in private sales and auctions. 140 million is now the benchmark with the Pollock (Oct/Nov 2006).


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