How Checkbook Art History Elevated Gustav Klimt To The $100 Million Club

April 7, 2015 12:10 PM

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How Checkbook Art History Elevated Gustav Klimt To The $100 Million Club

Nine years ago, when cosmetics magnate and top collector Ronald Lauder, co-founder of the Neue Galerie, shelled out a reported $135 million for Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907), many in the art world were stunned (see Why Ronald Lauder is Right About Nazi-Looted Art in Museums).

At that point, only one work had ever sold for more than $100 million at auction—according to public records—and that was Picasso's undeniable Rose-period masterpiece Boy With a Pipe (1905) sold at Sotheby's New York in May 2004. No one cast any doubt on that landmark price. Not only was Picasso con...

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