LONDON (Reuters) – The last-ever portrait Austrian artist Gustav Klimt painted before he died is headed for auction next week, with a price estimate of $80 million.
“Dame mit Fächer” (“Lady with a Fan”) – a portrait of an unnamed woman – was still on an easel in Klimt’s studio when the painter died in February 1918.
It leads Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction on June 27 in London, with a price estimate of around 65 million pounds ($80 million). That price tag makes it “the most valuable ever to have been offered at auction in Europe,” according to Sotheby’s.
“It shows Klimt at the very height of his creative prowess, drawing on imagery from Asia of which he was obsessed,” Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and worldwide head of impressionist and modern art, told Reuters, referring to depictions of a phoenix, lotus flower and other elements in the painting.
“It’s very rare for a Klimt painting of this quality and caliber of a portrait of a woman to come to auction.”
Last offered for sale in 1994, the painting is one of a small number of Klimt’s portraits in private collections, according to the auction house.
Other artworks being offered in the sale include Lucian Freud’s painting “Night Interior” (8 million-12 million pounds), a portrayal of his friend Penelope Cuthbertson, a rare self-portrait by Leonor Fini (400,000-600,000 pounds) and a painted bronze bust by Alberto Giacometti, “Buste de Diego au col roulé” (4 million-6 million pounds), among others.