Lost Gustav Klimt painting fetches €30m at auction

The long-lost painting by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, “Portrait of Fräulein Lieser,” resurfaced in a private collection and sold for €30 million at an auction in Vienna, per theguardian.com

Painted in 1917, the portrait remained missing for a century until its rediscovery by the Viennese auction house im Kinsky. The sudden reappearance of the unfinished artwork, along with its mysterious backstory, sparked considerable interest in the art world.

Before its auction, the painting was displayed at im Kinsky, attracting around 15,000 visitors. Although it sold for the lower end of its €30 million to €50 million valuation, it fell short of the record-breaking £74 million achieved by another late-period Klimt portrait, “Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan),” in London last June.

However, questions linger about the painting’s subject and its provenance during the Nazi era. Believed to be a commissioned portrait, the identity of the sitter remains uncertain. While some art historians suggest it depicts Margarethe Constance Lieser, daughter of a wealthy Jewish industrialist, im Kinsky proposes it could be one of the daughters of Justus Lieser and his wife, Henriette.

Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Fräulein Lieser in an auction house/The Guardian

The painting’s journey between 1925 and 1961 is particularly murky, with art historians struggling to trace its ownership during that period. The auction house admitted that the painting’s history during the Nazi era is “unclear,” though it was acquired by the current owner through three successive inheritances in the 1960s.

Despite the sale, the identity of the last Austrian owners before the auction remains undisclosed, adding to the mystery surrounding the painting’s past.


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date