Klimt painting sells for over $80 million at record-breaking London auction

An expert from Sotheby's introducing Bauerngarten during a preview in Hong Kong, Feb 14, 2017.
An expert from Sotheby's introducing Bauerngarten during a preview in Hong Kong, Feb 14, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - A painting of flowers by Gustav Klimt sold in London for £48 million (S$83 million), a record for a work by the Austrian artist and the third-highest price for any work sold at auction in Europe, Sotheby's said on Thursday (March 2).

Described in the auction catalogue as a masterpiece of Viennese fin-de-siecle art, Bauerngarten, completed in 1907, depicts poppies, daisies, zinnia and roses in full bloom in a garden.

It was the star attraction at Sotheby's sale of impressionist, modern and surrealist art, which took place on Wednesday evening.

The auction as a whole netted US$241 million (S$340 million), which Sotheby's said was the highest total for any auction staged in London, propelled particularly by Asian buyers.

"Tonight's outstanding result is a new benchmark for London sales as much as it is a statement on the momentum of the global art market in 2017," said Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby's Europe, in a statement.

The two artworks that previously sold for higher prices at European auctions were Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti's Walking Man I, which sold for £65 million in 2010, and Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens' The Massacre Of The Innocents, which went for £49.5 million in 2002.

 

Sotheby's said another highlight of its Wednesday sale was Pablo Picasso's 1944 work Plant De Tomates, which sold for £17 million.

The auction also set a record for a work by Alfred Sisley, a British impressionist who worked mostly in France. His 1874 painting "Effet de neige a Louveciennes" sold for £7.4 million.