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Oprah reported to have sold Klimt painting for $150m

American talk show host and billionaire entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey reportedly sold a Gustav Klimt painting for $150 million (€140.45m) in one of the biggest private art deals of 2016, according to a source who spoke to Bloomberg.

Oprah reported to have sold Klimt painting for $150m
Detail from Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II. Photo: Neue Galerie New York

Winfrey bought “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” for $87.9 million in 2006 at Christie’s in New York, which is still an auction record for the Austrian artist. Since then, its value has risen by about 71 percent. She reportedly sold it to an unidentified Chinese buyer.

“Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II,” from 1912, depicts a woman in a long, narrow robe and black hat, standing against an ornate background of mauve and green. The subject, Bloch-Bauer, was the wife of a Jewish industrialist and art patron in Vienna.  

The painting was part of a collection looted by the Nazis and famously restituted by the Austrian government to Bloch-Bauer’s heirs in 2006. The legal battle over the works inspired “Woman in Gold,” a 2015 film starring Helen Mirren.

ART

London Tube gets covered-up versions of Schiele nudes after it deems the originals too racy

As the art world plans to celebrate the centenary of Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele's death, some of his nudes have been dubbed too racy to show in their full glory, not least in the London underground.

London Tube gets covered-up versions of Schiele nudes after it deems the originals too racy
Photo: Christian Lendl/Vienna Tourist Board/AFP
Austrian museums will next year host a series of exhibitions and events to mark the centenary of his passing but time has apparently not dimmed some of the prudish attitudes prevalent in his lifetime regarding his rawest works, Vienna Tourist Board director Norbert Kettner told AFP.
   
Two of his works — “Seated Male Nude (Self-Portrait),” from 1910, and his 1914 work “Girl With Orange Stockings,” appear with their genitals covered over after Transport for London found the uncensored originals beyond the pale.
 
Advertising hoardings in Germany have similarly covered the offending parts, even though the works were deliberately selected as “we wanted to raise a discussion and the theme of nudity seemed pertinent,” Kettner told AFP.
 
“The campaign was ready but when we came up with the first visuals we had several reactions of 'that won't do; regulations won't allow us to show genitalia,'” he explained after the London Tube and a German airport both complained.
 
“We had the green light for a very large format and, the day before they went up, agreement was withdrawn as an ethics committee felt (full nude versions) wouldn't be acceptable for an airport public” or patrons of London's underground trains.
 
The Viennese tourist office quickly revamped the pictures, covering up the offending organs and adding on the blotted out section the slogan, “SORRY, 100 years old but still too daring today.”
 
They have also added the hashtag #ToArtItsFreedom in London – a play on the “To every age its art. To every art its freedom” inscribed on the entrance of the Vienna Secession building housing the union of Austrian artists movement.
 
Kettner revealed that a Viennese display did not share the artistic-sexual qualms of the British or the Germans and had approved a “non-censored” version.
 
The prolific Schiele, born in 1890 and who died of Spanish flu aged 28, was not always popular in his homeland where some, notably in conservative circles, took a dim view of his vision of tortured eroticism.
 
Nonetheless, a retrospective of his work will see a number of exhibitions highlight his talents as well as those of his first mentor and Secession co-founder Gustav Klimt.