Paintings sold under Nazis auctioned in New York

9th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 November 2006, New York (dpa) - An historic and controversial art auction at Christie's in New York Wednesday turned into the biggest ever with close to 500 million dollars worth of art sold at the sale of Impressionist and modern art. The evening's sale of 78 works -- six up for bid failed to sell -- totalled 491.4 million dollars, topping Christie's previous record of 269 million dollars in May 1990, reported the New York Times. The auction had been tainted with a Picasso painting being withdrawn due t

9 November 2006

New York (dpa) - An historic and controversial art auction at Christie's in New York Wednesday turned into the biggest ever with close to 500 million dollars worth of art sold at the sale of Impressionist and modern art. 

The evening's sale of 78 works -- six up for bid failed to sell -- totalled 491.4 million dollars, topping Christie's previous record of 269 million dollars in May 1990, reported the New York Times. 

The auction had been tainted with a Picasso painting being withdrawn due to last-minute litigation and the sale of five paintings, though not in legal dispute, being removed from museums and auctioned off by the heirs of owners who sold them under duress in Nazi Germany. 

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, one of four paintings by Austrian Gustav Klimt up for sale and expected to sell for 40 to 60 million dollars, was bid on by four telephone bidders and sold to an anonymous private collector for 87.9 million dollars.

It is the companion piece to Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which sold last June for 135 million dollars, then the most expensive work of art in history, to Ronald Lauder for the Neue Galerie. 

The three other Klimts all sold above initial estimates - Houses in Unterach on the Attersee, estimated to fetch 18 to 25 million dollars sold for 31 million to an unidentified couple at the auction; Apple Tree I, sold far above its estimate of 15 to 25 million dollars at 33 million dollars; and Birch Forest sold for 40.3 million dollars, 10 million dollars above its estimate. 

The five Klimt paintings were at the centre of a seven-year Nazi restitution case with the Austrian government that was settled with the Bauer-Bloch family earlier this year. They were previously displayed at Vienna museums. 

A key work of German expressionism, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Street Scene, Berlin, was sold for 38 million dollars, to a private dealer, who bid on behalf of New York's Neue Galerie and cosmetics heir Lauder. It was estimated to sell for 18 to 25 million dollars. 

The painting was recently returned to the granddaughter of Jewish art collector Alfred Hess by the Berlin Senate. It was on display in Berlin's Brücke Museum until August 1. 

A record price was paid for a Gauguin when his Man with an Ax sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for 40.3 million dollars. The painting had been in the Sultan of Brunei's family. 

Earlier Wednesday, Christie's withdrew a Blue Period painting by renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, after a German banker filed suit to reclaim the artwork that he said his family was forced to sell by the Nazis during World War II.

The Absinthe Drinker painting, also known as Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, was expected to sell at 40 million dollars to 60 million dollars.

DPA

Subject: German news

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