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The Old World and New World at Auction

Gustav Klimt, Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan) Executed 1917-18, Oil on canvas, 39.5 x 39.5 inches

A late-life masterpiece by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt sold today for 85.3 million pounds ($108.4 million), making it the most expensive artwork ever auctioned in Europe.

Dame mit Fächer” — Lady with a Fan — sold to a buyer in the room at Sotheby’s in London after a 10-minute bidding war for a hammer price of 74 million pounds ($94.35 million). The higher final figure includes a charge on top of the sale price known as the buyer’s premium.

The sale price well exceeded the presale estimate of 65 million pounds, or $80 million.

It also beat the previous European auction record of $104.3 million — 65 million pounds at the time — including buyer’s premium paid for Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture “Walking Man I” at Sotheby’s in 2010. Previously, the most expensive painting auctioned in Europe was Claude Monet’s “Le basin aux nymphéas,” which fetched $80.4 million at a Christie’s sale in 2008.

The piece sold today was the last portrait Klimt completed before his death in 1918. The painting shows an unidentified woman against a resplendent, China-influenced backdrop of dragons and lotus blossoms. It was last sold in 1994, going for $11.6 million at an auction in New York.

Sotheby’s said the buyer was art adviser Patti Wong, acting on behalf of a Hong Kong collector. Previous records for Klimt's paintings include $104.6 million for Birch Forest (1903) which was from the collection of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, sold in November of last year at Christie's New York; the restituted Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1903-07) which Ronald Lauder purchased in a private sale in 2006 for $135 million and Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912) which was purchased by Oprah Winfrey at $87.9 million at Christie's New York. According to The Art Newspaper Winfrey reportedly sold the work privately for around $150 million in 2016.


The term "ultra-contemporary art" emerged in 2019. According to Artnet News' original definition, ultra-contemporary art "strictly applies to artists born from 1975 to the present day, as a way to bring valuable visibility to the youngest talents with strengthening secondary markets."

Ultra-contemporary art represents a pivotal moment in the artistic landscape, pushing boundaries and challenging conventional norms. Its importance lies in its ability to capture the essence of our ever-evolving world, providing a platform for self-expression, societal reflection, and cultural critique. As we navigate the complexities of the 21st century, ultra-contemporary art becomes an indispensable voice, inspiring dialogue, and shapes our collective consciousness.

Mohammed Sami, Family Issues I, 2019, Acrylic on linen, 89 x 96 inches, Estimate: $60k - $90k,

Sold For $424,977.00

One of the primary significances of ultra-contemporary art is its role in capturing the zeitgeist. It serves as a mirror to society, reflecting the tumultuous, diverse, and interconnected nature of our modern existence. Through various mediums and techniques, artists delve into themes such as globalization, identity, technology, and the environment, creating a visual language that resonates with viewers and invites them to question the world around them. By addressing these pressing issues, ultra-contemporary art becomes a catalyst for introspection, awareness, and change.

Moreover, ultra-contemporary art plays a crucial role in expanding the boundaries of artistic expression. It embraces new technologies, unconventional materials, and innovative techniques, blurring the lines between different artistic disciplines. This fusion of mediums and experimentation opens up new possibilities for creativity, encouraging artists to think beyond traditional confines and challenge preconceived notions. The exploration of uncharted territories not only invigorates the art world but also influences other fields and fosters interdisciplinary collaboration.

Marina Rheingantz, Paisagem que Anda, 2013, Oil on canvas, 86.5 x 145.5 inches Estimate: $30k - $40K, Sold for $107,950.00

In addition, ultra-contemporary art acts as a conduit for cultural dialogue. In a globalized world, where borders blur and cultures intersect, this art form becomes a platform for diverse voices to be heard. Artists from different backgrounds, regions, and perspectives contribute to a rich tapestry of narratives, shedding light on marginalized experiences and fostering empathy and understanding. By showcasing these diverse narratives, ultra-contemporary art promotes inclusivity, cultural exchange, and social cohesion.

Ultimately, the importance of ultra-contemporary art lies in its ability to challenge, provoke, and inspire. It invites viewers to engage critically, emotionally, and intellectually, stimulating discourse and fostering a deeper connection with the artwork. By pushing the boundaries of artistic expression, capturing the spirit of the times, and facilitating cultural dialogue, ultra-contemporary art becomes a powerful force, shaping our understanding of the world and encouraging us to envision a more inclusive and enlightened future.

Matthew Wong, River at Dusk, 2018, Oil on canvas, 80 x 69.5 inches

Estimate: $5M - $7M, Sold for $6.66M

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