Painting by Austrian artist nets record $37m at Sotheby's auction

AFP 23 June 2011

A MONUMENTAL cityscape painting by Austrian artist Egon Schiele has smashed the world record after it was sold for $37 million at a London auction.

A woman admires a painting by Egon Schiele which has sold in London for a record price of $37 million at a Sotheby's auction. Source: Getty Images

Haeuser mit bunter Wasche (Vorstadt II) (Houses with Laundry (Suburb II) went under the hammer at Sotheby's auction house and fetched almost double the previous auction record for the artist.

The 1914 oil painting is "loosely based on motifs drawn from Krumau", the Southern Bohemia town in which the artist's mother was born and which inspired some of his greatest works, Sotheby's said.

Proceeds from the sale of the work, completed four years before the artist died aged 28, will go towards resolving a long-running dispute over an art work stolen by the Nazis.

A US court last year ordered Vienna's Leopold Museum, which owned the auctioned painting, to pay $19 million to the heirs of Lea Bondi Jaray, a Jewish art dealer who owned another of Schiele's paintings before it was taken by Nazi Friedrich Welz.

Peter Weinhaupl, Managing and Finance Director of the Leopold Museum, said: "We are extremely pleased with the results Sotheby's has achieved" and added it would "allow the museum to move forward with its goals."

The previous auction record for a Schiele oil on canvas was $22,416,000, realised in 2006.

Overall, the sale reaped $92m with a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti going for $10m.

Three works by Pablo Picasso, each depicting a different one of the Spanish artist's lovers, sold at a London auction on Tuesday for a total of $64m.
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