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The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer [Kindle Edition]

Anne-Marie O'Connor
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $14.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The Award-Winning Nazi Art Theft Saga
Winner of the Marfield National Award for Arts Writing
 Winner of a California Book Award

 Library Journal Top 10 Book of 2012 
 Christian Science Monitor Top 15 Nonfiction of 2012
 Best Huffington Post Art Book 2012
 Top 12 Nonfiction 2012 of Examiner.com

The spellbinding story, part fairy tale, part suspense, of Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it.
 
The Lady in Gold, considered an unforgettable masterpiece, one of the twentieth century's most recognizable paintings, made headlines all over the world when Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million a century after Klimt, the most famous Austrian painter of his time, completed the society portrait.
 
Anne-Marie O'Connor, writer for The Washington Post, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, tells the galvanizing story of the Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, a dazzling Viennese Jewish society figure; daughter of the head of one of the largest banks in the Hapsburg Empire, head of the Oriental Railway, whose Orient Express went from Berlin to Constantinople; wife of Ferdinand Bauer, sugar-beet baron.
 
The Bloch-Bauers were art patrons, and Adele herself was considered a rebel of fin de siècle Vienna (she wanted to be educated, a notion considered "degenerate" in a society that believed women being out in the world went against their feminine "nature"). The author describes how Adele inspired the portrait and how Klimt made more than a hundred sketches of her--simple pencil drawings on thin manila paper.
 
And O'Connor writes of Klimt himself, son of a failed gold engraver, shunned by arts bureaucrats, called an artistic heretic in his time, a genius in ours.
 
She writes of the Nazis confiscating the portrait of Adele from the Bloch-Bauers' grand palais; of the Austrian government putting the painting on display, stripping Adele's Jewish surname from it so that no clues to her identity (nor any hint of her Jewish origins) would be revealed. Nazi officials called the painting, The Lady in Gold and proudly exhibited it in Vienna's Baroque Belvedere Palace, consecrated in the 1930s as a Nazi institution.
 
The author writes of the painting, inspired by the Byzantine mosaics Klimt had studied in Italy, with their exotic symbols and swirls, the subject an idol in a golden shrine.
 
We see how, sixty years after it was stolen by the Nazis, the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer became the subject of a decade-long litigation between the Austrian government and the Bloch-Bauer heirs, how and why the U.S. Supreme Court became involved in the case, and how the Court's decision had profound ramifications in the art world.
 
A riveting social history; an illuminating and haunting look at turn-of-the-century Vienna; a brilliant portrait of the evolution of a painter; a masterfully told tale of suspense. And at the heart of it, the Lady in Gold--the shimmering painting, and its equally irresistible subject, the fate of each forever intertwined.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“O’Connor . . . skillfully navigates the bizarre orbit of Klimt’s masterpiece . . . with depth of insight and righteous indignation. Whether or not you’ve marveled at Klimt’s shimmering portrait before, you won’t look at it the same way again.”
Washingtonian
 
“Fascinating, ambitious, exhaustively researched . . . A mesmerizing tale of art and the Holocaust.”
The Washington Post
 
“Writing with a novelist's dynamism, O'Connor resurrects fascinating individuals and tells a many-faceted, intensely affecting, and profoundly revelatory tale of the inciting power of art and the unending need for justice.”
Booklist (starred review)
 
“Part history and part mystery, The Lady in Gold is a striking tale.”
BookPage

“The dazzling, nearly surreal ‘Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I’ is about a lot more than just art. O'Connor captures the whole story.”
Library Journal

“Every stolen painting has a story. The tale behind this one is epic.”
Christian Science Monitor

“A fascinating book.”
Dallas Morning News

“[An] evocation of a beautiful, vanished world.”
Women's Wear Daily

“Fascinating tale of beauty, terror, loss and remembrance reveals a deeper truth beneath the golden surface.”
—Jonathan Lopez, Associated Press

“O'Connor has told an important story.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Lusciously detailed.”
Kirkus

“Encapsulates a fascinating, complicated cultural history of fin-de-siècle Vienna, its Jewish intelligentsia, and their near complete destruction by the Nazis....vividly evokes... how she became entwined with the charismatic, sexually charged, and irreverent Klimt...poignant and convincing...”
Publisher’s Weekly

“Ignites many a startling flashpoint in the moral history of our time—a taut, rich, tangy and instructive read.”
—Frederic Morton

“Gripping in details and drama.”
The Los Angeles Times

“Intricately webbed and shocking tale of this iconic work.”
—Donna Seaman

From the Author

 Facebook at The Lady in Gold     annemarieoconnor.com     Twitter @theladyingold
                theladyingold.com        theladyingold.tumblr.com                     

Product Details

  • File Size: 2925 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307265641
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050DIWGQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,409 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lady in Gold February 18, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the story of Adele Bloch-Bauer and Gustav Klimt's portraits of her in fin de siècle Vienna, which were looted by the Nazis, taken by Austria, and returned to Bloch-Bauer's heirs in the 21st century.

The book captures the richness and liveliness of the lives of wealthy and cultured Jews of Vienna,as O'Connor calls it, the "equivalent of a 1960s happening." The cast of characters wandering through the story includes Arnold Schoenberg, Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler, Oskar Kokoschka and even Freud. Bloch-Bauer, the self-proclaimed atheist and socialist resides in the middle of this privileged life smoking cigarettes and spending long periods posing for Klimt. The exquisite painting, The Lady in Gold was created in those sittings.

This Utopia is shattered by Hitler's march into Vienna and although both Klimt and Adele are dead, their friends and relatives are confronted with a dystopia no one could imagine. As various Bloch-Bauer relatives are escaping, hiding or dying, the Nazis are looting massive amounts of art, homes, businesses and personal possessions, including The Lady In Gold.

Adele's niece, Maria Altmann, comes onto the scene as a Holocaust survivor from Vienna, a dress shop owner in Beverly Hills and one of the real heirs to the Klimt paintings. Next, Randol Shoenberg enters the picture as Maria Altmann's lawyer who fights to get the paintings returned. Skillful writing makes the transition from cultured and wealthy Vienna, to the Holocaust, to new life in California surprisingly smooth and it seems perfectly natural that another generation of Schoenbergs and Bloch-Bauers from another country and another century figure into this well researched history.
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am overwhelmed by this book March 5, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I want to thank the author for writing this book because it has taught me so much, opened my eyes, and enriched my experience of Klimt's work and of the splendor and loss that was Vienna. I have seen this painting in three very different places. I flew to Vienna just to see it. Then I saw it when it was in Los Angeles. Then once again in New York where I visit it every time I am there.

This book was well written. Had so much new information and made so many meaningful connections for me. When I read about Austria turning the painting over to the heirs, I cried even though I obviously knew the outcome.

So, Thank You Ms. O'Connor from a Secessionist obsessed never quite made it art historian. You gave me a great week of reading.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew art history could be so sexy? February 10, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like the intricate mosaic patterns on Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, this is a complex, absorbing tale of the painting, its subject, its artist and the turbulent and tragic events that surrounded them. From libertine turn-of-the-century Vienna, to the descent into the Nazi horrors of World War II, to the collective denial about those horrors that the Austrians embraced, this is a sweeping story laced with sensuality and sorrow. Anne-Marie O'Connor has done her homework well; this thoroughly-researched book takes us on an enlightening and compelling ride through the best of times and the worst of times in Vienna. And in the end, we learn that justice prevails and that a work of art can illuminate the dark corners of our history.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love, Loss, Justice March 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
"The Lady in Gold", by Anne-Marie O'Connor is a remarkable achievement. O'Connor brings the reader back in time to pre-WWII Vienna, into the silken salons of the assimilated Jewish population, where lilting German voices discuss art and philosophy while sipping dark Viennese coffee with thick cream. She then tells us the story of the enigmatic artist Gustav Klimt and the women he bedded and painted. While the reader never knows if Adele Bloch-Bauer, subject of the painting later renamed by Austria as "The Lady in Gold" was one of Klimt's lovers, we come to know Adele and her family intimately, and we care deeply about what happens to them. O'Connor vividly portrays the devastation caused by the Nazi party in Austria, even to those as wealthy as Adele's family, as we follow them in their struggle to survive.

And then, O'Connor tells another story entirely; how the Nazis systematically stole millions of dollars in homes, furniture, silver, businesses, and artwork from their Jewish victims and, after losing the war, brazenly tried to keep everything they had stolen. In Austria, when Adele's family tried to reclaim their homes and valuable works of art, the government simply refused. People found that history was being re-written. Austrians were no longer part of Hitler's killing machine, but were portraying themselves as his victims! One woman, the great-niece of Adele, was not willing to accept the status quo. Maria Altmann found an attorney who also had ties to pre-war Vienna who had the courage to fight to reclaim the family's stolen art.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but easy to get bogged down in September 5, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Lady in Gold is the story of the attempts by a number of Jewish families to reclaim paintings that were stolen by the Nazis during the Second World War, in particular those by Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt. While I've read a reasonable amount about the WWI and WWII, I knew very little about life in Austria at the time. I confess that my knowledge didn't extend much beyond Sound of Music... This book provides a fascinating insight into what was an epicentre of culture and the arts but also xeonphobia and anti-semitism. It paints a less than positive picture of Austria's involvement in the war, suggesting that the Austrians welcomed Hitler with open arms. My one complaint is that the book becomes a bit bogged down in the multitude of stories and individuals it sets out to follow. There are so many characters it's easy to lose track. The author also seems to have suffered a similar fate in the editing stage to the extent that a character may be introduced in detail in one chapter, only to be reintroduced a chapter later. It smacks a bit of an editing process involving last minute shuffling of chapters. That aside it's worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
Great book, bought to use as a unit study in homeschooling, glad I previewed; he was a racey artist! :)
Published 16 hours ago by Fire Daniels
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fascinating look at vienna before and during ww2
Published 5 days ago by a shopper
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lady in Gold and tales of much more.
A very informative telling of how art was stolen from Austrian Jews by the Nazis before, during and even after World War II. Read more
Published 13 days ago by boomerpsyc
5.0 out of 5 stars I 'm loved the book and learn lots of thing Wienna int ...
I 'm loved the book and learn lots of thing Wienna int second war II and Gustav Klimt artist life.
Published 14 days ago by Eva Takacs
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A non-fiction book that reads like a novel.
Published 14 days ago by suzanne bermant
5.0 out of 5 stars bravo!
An excellent further eye opener into a WWII's family saga and dynamics! Also,Ronald Lauder has surely made a difference not only in the art world,but,in his compassion for the... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Carol K. Mehler
5.0 out of 5 stars A Golden Age, Tarnished
This book reveals the story behind 'The Lady in Gold' Klimt's well-known masterpiece. But that story is told early on. The bigger story is about Vienna in the early 20th Century. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Carol Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Lady in Gold
This book is a trip through history. The backgroud of the Gustav Klimt's paintings that were owned by Jewish Families in Vienna. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Martin Levy
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not my favorite book.
Published 29 days ago by Nonna2
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book and wonderful story about a dark past. A must read.
Published 1 month ago by S. P.
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