Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ya gotta be kiddin' me!

"Adele Bloch-Bauer I" - Gustav Klimt (1907)

From the "some people have way too much money" file. Some incredibly rich (and stupid?) dude paid $US 135 million for this portrait. A record amount ever forked out for a painting. It is very pretty, imo, but that price tag is truly hideous. Convert that number into kiwi dollars and it becomes even more ludicrous - obscene even! Sheesh! To afford a painting like that you'd need to sell your house, property, car, business (even your wife & kids) and by that time you'd have nothing left & nowhere to hang the dang thing. Oh well, it's yo' money, you can waste spend it however you like.


ruth said...

Do you know the history of this painting? It's not just about money:-

The story behind a painting may be even more priceless than the painting itself. The Block-Bauer family contended the painting ‘Adele Bloch Bauer One’ was among several thieved by the Nazis in Austria in World War Two. The story of Adele ended sadly early, the story of her painting continued to be pain to a family.

Adele died in 1925 when the bacillus of the Nazi plague was still dormant. She left a willrequesting her husband to leave the Klimt paintings in his will to the Austrian Gallery in Vienna. Ferdinand declared himself willing to do so when his time would come. However, in 1938 when the Nazis invaded the Austrian territory, he fled for his life to Switzerland, leaving of course, all his possessions behind. He died in exile in 1945 having revoked all previous wills.

The reason for this is obvious; he had lost all of his Austrian possessions and therefore the possibility to dispose of them. The Austrian Government now takes the position that the request of Adele Bloch-Bauer’s will has the force of a legacy. This, of course, is absurd.
The paintings belonged to her husband who had commissioned them and paid for them.

Under this flimsy pretext the Austrian Government has refused to turn over the stolen paintings to the last surviving member of the Bloch-Bauer family, Maria Altmann. An attempt to take legal action against the Austrian Government was stifled by its demand of a prior deposit of $500,000.

And so, the Klimt paintings are stolen again: the first time by the Nazis in 1938, the second time at the end of World War II when the Austrian Government forbade the export of “Austrian Art”, the third time now by a flagrant perversion of the law.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Of course there were lawyers involved. What is right occasionally survives legalities argued in courts. Something sweet may still survive a tragedy, for those who perservere. In the end, the niece of Adele was awarded the art and something of a blood stained legacy washed near clean of its stain by the machinery of the state.

“This is our Mona Lisa,” said Mr. Lauder, a founder of the five-year-old Neue Galerie, a tiny museum at Fifth Avenue and 86th Street devoted entirely to German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime acquisition.”

phil said...

Thanks, Ruth.

Yes, the article touches on what you say. In that historical sense, the portrait's priceless.

Sorry for being such a glib bast*rd in the original post.