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The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer [Deckle Edge] Hardcover – February 7, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307265641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307265647
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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Customer Reviews

This book was well written.
Cape Pug
I highly recommend this book if you love art, history, or a better understanding of the Holocaust.
Rene McD
The book tells the story of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the famous Klimt painting, A Lady in Gold.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Susie N. on 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 By Cape Pug on 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 By George Lewis on 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 By blondjustice on 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 By Fiona Leonard on 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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