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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 (280 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $30.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
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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

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


“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.”
“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.”

“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.”

“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     Twitter @theladyingold

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: #5,286 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
137 of 143 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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55 of 55 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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30 of 31 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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43 of 47 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
1.0 out of 5 stars Wait for the movie.
Very scattered, and author was all over the place. Frustrating to read. Should have waited for the movie.
Published 4 days ago by Not a fan
5.0 out of 5 stars well written and informative
I thought the book was fascinating, showing a part of the history of WW2 in amazing detail. At times the book was a little tedious. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Ellin Hirsch
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It had way too much detail. I think the story could have been told as effectively with less detail.
Published 8 days ago by Pat Wentz
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a great read as well as a history lesson
This book combined klimt' life and that of the Bauer family with the history of Europe, particularly Austria during the late 1800's to almost the present. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Evelyn Banko
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Much too complicated. Foreign words used too often. Too many characters.
Published 9 days ago by larry eisenbeisz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read for Art Lovers and History Lovers alike!
This book read like an historical novel, except, it was fact. The author so beautifully described the belle epoch of Vienna so well, I wanted to plan a trip to Austria... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Judy Orlanski
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a very interesting book and provided great insight into...
This was a very interesting book and provided great insight into Austria's role during WWII. It felt a little long in the beginning but it was probably necessary to really... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Nancy Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. It is a true story and I ...
Great book. It is a true story and I enjoyed all the details of the time period. The story of the painting making it through the years was interesting.
Published 9 days ago by Francine Nagin
5.0 out of 5 stars good history and an important painting of the time
I thought that The Lady in Gold was well written, good history and an important painting of the time. Living in L.A. Read more
Published 9 days ago by 2 Picasso
5.0 out of 5 stars Vienna - Artists
My husband and I both read Lady in Gold. Very interesting - gives you a whole new perspective on Vienna. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Gail S.
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