The extraordinary story of one of the most expensive paintings in the world

It is a story in which there is love and hate, betrayal and revenge, the pursuit and sacrifice. Moral of the story there - what may be the moral from history, which brings together the genius of Gustav Klimt, the femme fatale Adele Bloch-Bauer paintings worth 135 million dollars, Adolf Hitler, George Bush, the US Government and people of Austria?

You've probably already guessed that we are talking about Gustav Klimt painting "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" or "Golden Adele».

And it all began:

1904. Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer was the paved sidewalk, whistling a merry tune, swinging a cane, sometimes stopping and bowing politely counter Messrs.

He had already decided for themselves. First, of course, he wanted to kill her, but in Jewish families is not accepted to kill their wives for adultery. Divorce, he too could not - in Jewish families pending divorce. Especially in such families as he and his wife Adele - in the elite families of the Austrian Jewish community. In such families, marriages are forever. The money should go to the money, capital to capital. This marriage was approved by the parents on both sides. Adele's father, Moritz Bauer, a prominent banker, chairman of the Association of Austrian Bankers have long sought worthy suitors for his daughters, and brothers chose Ferdinand and Gustav Bloch involved in sugar production, and had several companies whose shares are continuously growing.

At the wedding, I feasted all Vienna, but after the merger of the two families became capital Bloch-Bauer. And now Europe's largest sugar-to Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer was on the pavement and felt on his head, a luxurious satin cylinder grow branched antlers. Only lazy did not discuss whirlwind romance his wife Adele and artist Gustav Klimt. He had not slept for many nights in a row, and he lay staring into the darkness, until he came up with his revenge ... Adelke ... So he called her - not Adele and Adelka.

Adele Bloch-Bauer

Suppose he was not educated and well-read, like Adele, but he also knew something and could not know, for example, that the ancient Indians to separate lovers riveted their chains to each other and stick together, until they begin to hate each other as much as the recently enjoyed.

This idea came to him in a dream. He dreamed that his sugar empire disintegrated into small pieces of sugar and little men carried off everything in their little hole, and he was only a portrait of his wife Adele.

He will order him (Klimt) Portrait of Adele! And let Klimt sketches make 100 until it will not turn out from it. He will not for a long time - it is necessary to change of models, mistresses, concubines, women around him. Otherwise, he is suffocating. No wonder he is credited with fourteen illegitimate children. Let him write this portrait a few years! And let Adelka sees Klimt feelings fade. Let understand what she him, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, exchanged!

And they will not be able to leave. Contract - a serious matter. And in it a fine exceeding the amount of the contract is ten times. Ferdinand could easily destroy Klimt.

Collection coin with a fragment of "Adele" nominal value of 50 euros. Market value - 505 euros.

Ferdinand decided to order Klimt portrait of Adele and call the painting "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer", thus perpetuating his name.

Caressed by the authorities Klimt was a very fashionable and popular artist, his paintings were a good investment, and Ferdinand is perfectly understood. Over the past few years, Klimt and his brother have traveled all over the country, making out the pavilion of mineral waters in Carlsbad, the capital Burgtheater, the villa of the Empress Sissi. In twenty-six Klimt received the Golden Order "For Merit" in twenty-eight - Praemium Imperiale.

Gustav Klimt

So Ferdinand carefully prepared contract with Klimt, the matter engaged his best lawyers, and now it was important to Klimt signed the papers.

When Ferdinand came home, Adel was lying on the couch in the living room and smoked as usual cigarillo in the mouthpiece. She loved the apple tobacco. Its slim supple figure looked like a panther on vacation, so she was graceful. Subtle facial features and dark hair were good. Adele accustomed to happy "doing nothing».

She grew up in a very wealthy family, surrounded by the army of servants. At that time, for some reason, the girls could not study at the university, but parents Adele gave her good education at home. Adele was very romantic lady, reading the classics in four languages ​​and a surprising combination of painful fragility of the air with proud arrogance millionaire. The married Adele entertained herself content fashion salon, where the assembled poets, artists and the cream of high society of Vienna. There they got acquainted with Gustav.

Adele Bloch-Bauer

Going into the living room, Ferdinand suggested Adele to change as he Klimt invited to dinner. At the mention of Klimt Adele broke out, and it did not escape from the eyes of her husband. Gustav Klimt arrived without delay, in any case taking with a frame for a picture.

Very interesting, but it always starts with a frame. His brother was producing a beautiful frame, and Klimt to inscribe his masterpiece. Dinner was quiet, except for the fact that Adele Gustav and stubbornly refused to look at each other. Ferdinand, by contrast, was cheerful and joked continuously.

Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer

After dinner, the three of them gathered in the living room, and between them held about such a dialogue:

Ferdinand (officially): - Mr. Klimt! You probably already guessed that I invited you to make an order and therefore brought with them a stretcher? I would like to book you an unusual portrait of my wife Adele.

Klimt: - What is it to be unusual?

Ferdinand: - that there should exist at least several centuries!

Klimt (with interest): - I wonder, I wonder ... a few centuries. I do not know. I'm interested to represent the most important point of human life: conception, pregnancy, birth, youth, Afternoon of Life, Old Age ...

Ferdinand: - But the Bible says people Sistine Madonna painted these works and people live for centuries! So you do a portrait of my wife as Madonna Austro-Hungarian Empire and let this portrait of lives in the centuries!

Klimt: - You put me in front of a very difficult task!

Ferdinand: - And we do not hurry. I'll pay you a good down payment that you did not think about money.

Klimt: - A similar pattern may require additional costs.

Ferdinand: - For example?

Klimt: - For example, I would like to dress trimmed with gold plates ...

Ferdinand: - If you are going to decorate the dress of my wife's gold, and draw attention to the bottom of the picture, then I will buy a necklace, hoping to attract attention to the upper part of the picture.

Adele (ironically): - Here you have all of me and shared. I can only "handles folded on his chest," to draw attention to the middle of the picture.

Ferdinand: - I would like to see a portrait of my wife did not contain nudity places like your portrait of Judith.

Klimt: - Of course. I will make a sketch, and only after your approval proceed to substantive work.

Seeing the amount of the contract, Gustav Klimt signed it without reading. Of course, he suspected that a brilliant artist, but the price offered him Ferdinand, simply stunned.

About a hundred sketches Klimt wrote this portrait. And I finish working on it for four years.

Ferdinand was pleased. The painting was finished (and in fact many of the paintings remained unfinished) and in full compliance with his plan. They Adele hung it in the living room of their Vienna home.

"Golden Adele" fragment

It is obvious that the relationship Klimt and Adele gradually faded. Shortly after the start of work on the painting Klimt Adele ill and had to make lengthy outages.

Adele was sick, and at the same time a lot of smoke, often spending the whole day without getting up from bed. God did not give them to children Ferdinand. She was trying to give birth three times and each time the children died. All my mother's love unspent Adel transferred to his sister's children, highlighting his niece Maria Bloch-Bauer. Mary often came to sit with a sick aunt, they discussed the latest fashion trends and styles of dresses for the Inaugural Ball Mary. As well as painting by Klimt, which is in the house of Adele and Ferdinand had accumulated more than ten pieces.

Ferdinand spent his time, devoting his work in their sugar empire. He never told Adele that he knew about her relationship with Gustav.

Gustav Klimt

As time went on, approaching the First World War. "Golden Age" in the life of Klimt was over, replaced by a depressing picture with the image of death and the end of the world. Klimt is very difficult to tolerate the events taking place in the world. The war has affected his disastrous. And at age 52, in 1918, Klimt died suddenly of a stroke in his workshop in the hands of his eternal companion Emily FLEG.

Emily FLEG and Gustav Klimt

Adel survived him for seven years and died in 1925, died quietly after meningitis. Before his death, Adele asked Ferdinand to bequeath three paintings, including "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer", the Viennese museum Belvedere.

Ferdinand lived alone, his life was getting harder and harder, because in 1938 Austria became part of Germany, and the Nazis began to hunt for Austrian Jews. In the same year Ferdinand managed to escape to Switzerland, leaving all his possessions to the care of family brother.

The painting remained in the living room, near the World War II.

Then the story goes on Mary Bloch-Bauer (after marriage - Maria Altmann) - a woman who has taken over the baton in the history of the painting "Portrait of Adele Bloch Bauer».

Maria Altmann

Gustav Bloch-Bauer, the brother of Ferdinand, accounted for her husband's sister Adele. In their family of five children, the same Maria Adele visited during his illness was the youngest. Ironically, they lived very modestly, dressed simply and children allowed only the cheapest Italian ice cream. Outside the family sugar business Mary's father was a good musician and friend of Rothschild, who brought in their house cello Stradivarius, and then there's going to almost all indifferent to the high art of Vienna.

When Mary was a teenager, it linked the tender friendship with Alois Koons from school that was far from the one where she studied. She often invited him to the house of her aunt Adele and together they looked at the picture. Alois Maria even invited to his first ball. This meant that Alois was presented and approved by the parents of Mary, who believed its cultural and well-mannered young man. Aunt Maria Adele allowed to wear your diamond necklace, which posed for Klimt. Mary remembered this ball for life. They Alois knew that the painting has a secret. If you look at Adele at a certain angle and make a wish, then the corners of the lips can be determined Adele smiling or frowning. If smiles - wish will come true.

Gustav Klimt, "Dancer" (1916-1918 gg.)

But married Maria married another. Frederic Altman was an opera singer, the son of a major industrialist. Money is money, capital to capital. Apparently, his parents were better off. They married in 1938, on the eve of the German invasion of Austria. But, despite a contractual marriage, Mary loved her husband and lived with him all his life. The famous diamond necklace, which Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt posed, her uncle Ferdinand had given her as a wedding gift.

When the Nazis began to hunt for Austrian Jews, Ferdinand fled to Switzerland, and her husband Frederick was captured and sent to the Gestapo. A little later he was in the concentration camp in Dachau, where thousands of Jews were turned into black smoke after being transferred all his property to the German authorities. The Gestapo broke into the house of Mary in Vienna and took all the valuables and a Stradivarius cello, and a diamond necklace Adele just shoved in a bag (there were witnesses that this necklace a few times and then appeared in public the wife of Heinrich Himmler). Maria spared nothing and immediately signed all the necessary papers, which refused all movable and immovable property. She was ready to do anything just to save her husband from death.

Concentration camp Dachau

Maria waited from day to day and take away "Golden Adele". It almost was not surprised when the pattern, accompanied by a detachment of the Gestapo came her school friend Alois Kunst. Kunst has collaborated with the Nazis, gathering for their collection of paintings, some of which ended up in the recesses of the cellars and the Third Reich. When she asked how he could become a traitor, he said, so he can do much more for Austria.

Adolf Hitler had a positive attitude to the work of Gustav Klimt. They met with Klimt, when Hitler tried to enter the Academy of Painting in Vienna. Then Klimt was already an honorary professor at the academy. While Hitler made his living that drew little pictures with views of Vienna and sold them to tourists in restaurants and taverns. He came to Klimt, to show their work and maybe take some lessons of painting. Kindness, Klimt Hitler announced that he was a genius and he does not need to take lessons. Hitler left very satisfied by Klimt and his friends said that he found himself Klimt. The Academy of Painting Hitler never did, instead, to take Oskar Kokoschka, a Jew by nationality. Maybe that's why Hitler once said that his hatred of the Jews - this is purely private.

Paintings by Adolf Hitler

But this hatred Klimt paintings are not touched, they were ordered to guard, despite the author's Jewish origins.

When the "Golden Adele" left the family home, the Fuehrer did not accept it in its collection: Adele was outspoken Jewish, and, as you can imagine, such a picture could not hang any of the Reichstag or in other places of Nazi Germany. That is why the focus is on the exterior of Adele Bloch-Bauer, who saved a picture of death. Painting disappeared. No one knows where he was a portrait of Adele war years.

Cherished ... Alois Kunst in perfect condition, it emerged after the war and settled in the Central Museum of the Belvedere in Vienna. And Alois Kunst became director of the museum, and continued to keep his beloved heirloom.

Belvedere Museum, Vienna

Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer died in November 1945 alone. None of the family could not accompany him on his last journey.

Mary and her husband were lucky: the Gestapo investigator was familiar Altman, with whom Frederick mountaineering and once saved him, pulled out of the abyss. They fled with forged documents. Gestapo chased them. Mary recalled how in the aircraft, which flew from Vienna to London and had taxied to the runway suddenly turn off the engine and the Gestapo came armed with machine guns. Altman sat clutching the chair, thinking it was for them. But then they brought someone else.

Maria Altmann carefully preserved torn stockings, which she and her husband climbed over the barbed wire. She considered them a symbol of their freedom. Altman couple moved first to England and then to the United States. After some time, Maria became an American citizen.

All was quiet, as long as the annoying journalist Hubertus Czernin not dug out the will of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer left before his death in Switzerland, replaces all previous wills. It Ferdinand bequeathed all the property of his nephews - the children's brother Gustav Bloch-Bauer. Capital, in his opinion, had to work for the family. At that time, Mary was left alive, and that has been for 80 years. But Hubertus knew it was his finest hour. Despite its origins Count, he was poor, but he loved to live in grand style. He knew that the American millionaire roll away a good amount of the information. And so it happened. Mary considered herself an eternal owe to him.

Lawyer Rendall Schoenberg with heiress Maria Altmann, between the image of the "Golden Adele" by Gustav Klimt. Illustration: Catherine Klein

All Austria became alarmed as the hornet's nest! Headlines Austrian newspapers screamed: "Austria loses his relics !!!", "Do not let America !!! our national heritage." The police fell threat that the picture will be destroyed, but will not go to America. In the end, the management of the museum decided to remove the "Golden Adele" away from sin, to the store.

Surprisingly, George W. Bush, using some of his arms, did not give a cause of stroke paintings.

Wait a minute!


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