No, she’s not heading to Disneyland — it’s off to Vienna for Maria Altmann, 90. She’s one of the four heirs of Adele Bloch-Bauer whose painting, “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” by Gustav Klimt was just sold for a non-confirmed $135 million. Two of Maria’s grandsons will accompany her. Ron Lauder had put in his offer for the painting
On June 5, I told you here to be a part of his Neue Galerie and Museum of German and Austrian Art in N.Y. (He’s its benefactor and President). It was one of the five paintings on exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art having been legally regained from Austria’s national museum, having originally been stolen by invading Nazis. Maria Altmann and her family fled Austria in 1938 when she was 22. She had returned as recently as 1999 when she again saw her family’s (five) paintings on exhibit there. In 1998 she called young L.A. attorney Randol Schoenberg to pursue their recovery. He’s the grandson of composer Arnold Schoenberg. Ironically he was successful in getting his grandfather’s archives from USC transferred to his foundation in Vienna. It was he and attorney Richard Mosk who retrieved the now-fabled Klimt paintings.
With the record-breaking sale, Randol S. admits to me, “This is an unbelievable end to the story.” Today he received an e-mail from Germany telling him a TV anchorman called the story of the paintings’ return to the family — and now to its new home in the Lauter-sponsored museum in N.Y. — “a disgrace for Austria.” told me on June 5 there were many offers “on the table — but it was not yet sold.”
Attorney Steve Thomas who handled the record-making sale of the painting, (Lauder included) “on the table — but it was not yet sold.” And while LACMA had asked for an extension of the exhibit beyond its June 30 date, Thomas said, “It’s a possibility — but probably is not going to happen.” However, he said, L.A.’s museum “has been very cooperative in helping to make the transition from L.A. to N.Y.” Today with news of the record-breaking sale, art lovers — and those anxious to see what a $150 million (?) painting look like — were waiting in line at LACMA to see the soon-to-depart exhibit.