This lovely, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, was painted in 1912 by Gustav Klimt. I’m sure it was appreciated by the owners. It’s different from his usual gold-infused portraits, and for that reason it seems to have a whimsical feeling.
And then there were Nazis. This painting was one of thousands of pieces of art that were taken and enjoyed by German officers and their families, and then hidden when the war was coming to an end.
When I was a graduate student in the discipline of Art History, I became obsessed with these stolen paintings. To the extent that I ran around some Eastern European countries late at night, dressed in black, jumping on stranger’s motorcycles and at times, even carrying a gun. My dissertation was killer, because I found a stolen painting, restored it, and returned it to its rightful owner. Not all of the stories associated with the rescue of these paintings end so well. More about that in “Embracing the Fool.”
Anywho, a lot of legal fights have been held over who really owns this painting. All I think you need to know is that it was recently sold at auction by Oprah Winfrey to a Chinese collector for a ginormous amount of money. I sincerely hope he’s enjoying it. But more than that, I hope the rightful owners see the news and show up at his door to claim it as theirs.