The history of the painting, known worldwide as the “Golden Adele” or the “Austrian Mona Lisa”, can be called a detective story. The reason for its creation was the revenge of the husband for his wife’s love affair with Gustav Klimt, the artist. The picture remained unharmed during the Second World War, and in the postwar period, "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" became the subject of strife between Austria and the United States.
In 1904, the owner of a sugar factory Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer found out about the betrayal of his wife. All Vienna talked about the affair of Adele and the artist Gustav Klimt. He found in love affairs an inexhaustible source of inspiration. And so that the opponent would quickly get fed up and quit his mistress, Adele’s husband came up with an original plan: he ordered Klimt a large portrait of his wife, in the hope that posing and being too often near the artist, he would quickly get bored of her.
Adele Bloch-Bauer was the mistress of a fashionable salon where poets, artists, and other representatives of the creative elite of Vienna gathered. This is how her niece, Maria Altman, recalled her: “Suffering, constantly suffering from a headache, smoking like a steam locomotive, terribly tender and languid. Soulful, self-satisfied, and elegant.”
To the proposal to write a portrait of Adele the artist agreed. The amount of the reward was very decent. Klimt worked for 4 years, during that time he created about 100 sketches and the famous “Golden Adel”. If the artist was tied up with some kind of relationship with the model, during this time it finished.
In 1918, at the age of 52, Klimt died. Adele overlived him for 7 years. Before her death, she asked her husband to bequeath three paintings, including her portrait, to the Belvedere Museum. Until 1918, the portrait was at the disposal of the Bloch-Bower family, but from 1918 to 1921 was given to the Austrian State Gallery. In 1938, Austria became part of Nazi Germany. Ferdinand had to leave his housing and all his property and flee to Switzerland. During the war, the collection was confiscated by Germany and transferred to the Austrian Gallery. Due to the Jewish origin of the author and the models, these canvases did not fall into the Fuhrer’s collection, but they were not destroyed. Allegedly, Hitler met with Klimt back in the days when he tried to enter the Academy of Painting in Vienna, and he positively assessed his work. However, reliable evidence of this has not survived.
After the war, "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer" was in the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, and would have stayed there until now, but once Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer's testament was found, in which he bequeathed all his property to his nephews - his brother's children. At that time, only Maria Altman, who had escaped during the war to the United States and received American citizenship, remained alive. The court proceedings lasted 7 years, after which the right was granted to Maria to have five paintings by Gustav Klimt, including “The Golden Adele”.
Maria was willing to leave the paintings in Austria if she was paid their market value - $ 300 million! But this amount was too big, and the canvases went to the USA, where they were bought for 135 million dollars by Ronald Lauder for his gallery in New York. The Austrians are now satisfied only with souvenirs with images of Adele Bloch-Bauer.