Klimt's final portrait sells for record £85.3m

Gustav Klimt's painting Lady with a Fan

The most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction in Europe, Gustav Klimt's final painting sold for £85.3m ($108.4m).

A Hong Kong collector won the sale of Lady with a Fan (Dame mit Fächer) at Sotheby's after outbidding four other bidders.

When Klimt passed away in 1918, the unidentified woman's portrait was still open on an easel in his studio.

It exceeded the £65 million estimate in a 10-minute auction.

The painting is part of the Japonisme movement, which refers to the influence of Japanese art and design on Western European artists, and is hailed as "a masterpiece by an artist at the height of his powers." It is heavily influenced by Asia.

A number of Chinese symbols are also present, such as the phoenix, a representation of immortality and rebirth, and lotus blossoms, a symbol of love.

The last portrait that Gustav Klimt painted before his untimely death, when he was still in the height of his artistic powers and producing some of his most accomplished and experimental works, was Dame mit Fächer, according to Helena Newman, chair of Sotheby's Europe and global head of impressionist and modern art.

The portraits for which he is best known were among many of those works. This, however, is something entirely different: a technical marvel that pushes the boundaries of experimentation while also serving as a moving ode to the perfection of beauty. ".

One of the few privately owned portraits by Klimt, a key figure in the Vienna Secession art movement, is Lady with a Fan. The last time it was sold, in 1994, it brought in $11.6m (£9m).

The Kiss, painted in 1907 and 1908, and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, painted in 1907, are two of the Austrian Symbolist artist's best-known works on canvases covered in gold leaf.

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