Owned by Jews in Vienna, looted by the Nazis, returned to Austria, fought over for years, and then restored to the rightful owner, Maria Altmann in LA… and now bought by Ronald S. Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire and world’s greatest collector of modern German and Austrian art. According to the NY times
Although confidentiality agreements surrounding the sale forbid Mr. Lauder to disclose the price, experts familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he paid $135 million for the work. In a telephone interview Mr. Lauder did not deny that he had paid a record amount for the painting, eclipsing the $104.1 million paid for Picasso’s 1905 “Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)” in an auction at Sotheby’s in 2004.
“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.”
Mr. Lauder, besides his amazing collection of art, also has spent an entire fortune rebuilding Jewish life in Nazi-destroyed Central and Eastern Europe.
So now the most expensive painting in the world is ofâ€”a Jewish lady! The painting is actually a portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish sugar industrialist and the hostess of a prominent Vienna salon. It is one of Klimt’s finest, if not THE finest painting he ever made.