Klimt garden painting expected to sell for over €53m at auction

Bauerngarten, a 1907 landscape, is considered ‘one of the greatest works by the artist ever to appear at market’

A detail from Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten • Photograph: Sotheby's
A detail from Gustav Klimt’s Bauerngarten • Photograph: Sotheby's

A gorgeously colourful and joyous garden painting by Gustav Klimt is to be a highlight of the next big London art sale season.

The auction house Sotheby’s said the 1907 painting Bauerngarten was one of the greatest works by the artist ever to appear at market.

It has an estimate in excess of €53 million but is expected to realise far more.

Helena Newman, global co-head of Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art department, said it was innovative and “jewel-like in its exquisite blaze of colours”.

She added: “Most of the artist’s oil paintings of this calibre are in major museums around the world with only a handful of works of this importance having appeared at auction in the last decade.”

Paintings by Klimt attract some of the most staggeringly high prices. This week it was reported that Oprah Winfrey sold one to a Chinese buyer last year that she first purchased in 2006.

Winfrey bought Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II for $87.9m (£70m) at Christie’s in New York, setting an auction record for the artist. She sold it in a private deal for $150m. That amounts to one painting for almost half the cost of Tate Modern’s extension, which opened last year.

According to Bloomberg, another Klimt - Water Serpents II - was sold to an Asian buyer by the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in November 2015. The price was $170m.

Klimt is one of the ten artists whose works have fetched in excess of $100m at auction, the others being Gauguin, Cezanne, Rothko, Picasso, Modigliani, Bacon, Giacometti, Pollock and De Kooning.

Newman said she expected the new Klimt to cause a sensation in the art market.

“Alongside Klimt’s portraits, his landscapes are a dazzling treatment of nature, imbued with his own aesthetic which is in tune with his golden period portraits such as The Kiss.

“This painting has universal appeal, but certainly this aesthetic will appeal to Asian collectors as Klimt drew his influence from Asian art.”

The painting was last publicly exhibited last year at the Royal Academy of Arts’ Painting the Modern Garden show.

It will go up for sale in London on 1 March.