Oprah Reportedly Scores $150 Million in Art Sale to Chinese Buyer

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Klimt (Source: Neue Galerie New York)
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Klimt (Source: Neue Galerie New York)

The art world is feeling Oprah Winfrey’s Midas touch.

The billionaire entrepreneur sold a Gustav Klimt painting for $150 million in one of the biggest private art deals of 2016, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. Winfrey, chief executive officer of the television channel Oprah Winfrey Network, bought “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” for $87.9 million in 2006 at Christie’s in New York — still an auction record for the Austrian artist. Since then, its value has risen about 71 percent.

The work is the second major Klimt that changed hands since the art market started contracting. Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev sold “Water Serpents II” (1904-1907) privately for $170 million in November 2015, according to Sandy Heller, Rybolovlev’s art consultant. Both Klimts went to Asia, where booming wealth has built a growing network of collectors eager to anchor their art holdings with Western masterpieces.

“Klimt is on the list of some people,” said Grace Rong Li, who advises Asian collectors on Western modern and contemporary art. The appeal of the artist, known for his golden-hued “The Kiss,” is both aesthetic and financial, she added.

“Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II,” from 1912, depicts a woman in a long, narrow robe and halo-like 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.

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SOURCE: Katya Kazakina