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    Lady with a Fan – the last portrait Austrian artist Gustav Klimt painted

    There was a new auction record for a painting sold in Europe at Sotheby’s in London tonight when Klimt’s last portrait – Lady with a Fan – soared past its estimate of £65 million to sell for £85.3 million. After a four way bidding war it went to a collector in Hong Kong. This is the second highest price for a portrait ever at auction.

    The painting, described as “a masterpiece by an artist at the height of his powers”, has strong Asian influences and is part of the Japonisme trend, which refers to the influence of Japanese art and design among Western European artists.

    It also features several Chinese motifs including the phoenix, a symbol of immortality and rebirth, and lotus blossoms that signify love.

    Helena Newman, the chair of Sotheby’s Europe and worldwide head of impressionist and modern art, said: “Dame mit Fächer is the last portrait Gustav Klimt created before his untimely death, when still in his artistic prime and producing some of his most accomplished and experimental works.

    “Many of those works, certainly the portraits for which he is best known, were commissions. This, though, is something completely different – a technical tour de force, full of boundary-pushing experimentation, as well as a heartfelt ode to absolute beauty.”

    Previous highest prices achieved in Europe were:

    £65m / $104.3m – Alberto Giacometti, Walking Man (Sotheby’s London, February 2010) – record for any work of art sold at auction in Europe
    £40.9m / $80.4m – Claude Monet, Le basin aux nymphéas –  (Christie’s London, June 2008) – record for any painting sold at auction in Europe
    £59.4m / $79.8m – René Magritte, L’empire des lumières  (Sotheby’s London, March 2022)
    £49.5m / $76.7m – Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents (Sotheby’s London, July 2002)

    (See post on for June 24, 2023)

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