There's an opinion piece in today's LA Times that ask, assuming one can equate worth with financial value, what happened? What has made Klimt rise to the heights? Indeed, what gives any painting such a commanding presence?
I would think the price of this portrait had to do with the history of its ownership, with the Austrian government unwilling to return it to the original owner, Maria Altmann, after the Nazi's looted it from her family during the Holocaust... and how the 90-year-old Altmann has spent the last seven years fighting to recover her family's collection. But I'm sure there is a more complex back story, as the piece is considered one of the most recognizable portraits of the 20th century.
Dead Boy and I had recently discussed the value of art, and how he would love to be an art thief, because the value is socially contructed.
For Henry E. Huntington, owning "Blue Boy" was the summit of a lifetime's ambition, but for the British, it was a frightful blow, like selling the crown jewels. Before the painting left Britain, crowds stood in long lines to look at it once more, and men bared their heads. Now the painting can be seen any day of the week in San Marino, at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, and there are never lines.
Here is my favorite piece by Klimt. It is so beautiful in person!