August 7, 2006

Four more Klimts to be sold after record price

LONDON (Reuters) - A woman who fought a court battle to win
back five valuable paintings by Gustav Klimt taken from her
heirs by the Nazis will sell the remaining works from her
collection after the first fetched a record $135 million.

U.S.-based Maria Altmann, niece of the Bloch-Bauers who
originally owned the paintings, has hired Christie's to handle
the sale of works with a combined value estimated at between
$100-150 million, the auctioneer said on Monday.

The collection hit the headlines in June when it was
announced that a 1907 portrait by the Austrian artist had been
purchased by cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder for $135
million, the highest amount ever paid for a painting.

The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a Jewish
sugar industrialist, is considered one of Klimt's masterpieces,
and was the most valuable of the five paintings owned by
Altmann, experts say.

A spokeswoman for Christie's in London said the sale of the
four remaining paintings would probably be private, as opposed
to an open auction.