Even though I’m hobbling around with a broken foot, I couldn’t resist the invitation to a fabulous mansion on Sunset Boulevard last weekend for a ladies’ lunch in celebration of former Los Angeles Times reporter Anne-Marie O’Connor and her new book, “The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. “
When Ronald Lauder bought the painting known as the “Austrian Mona Lisa” in 2006, he paid more money than ever had been for a work of art: $135 million. But that’s just the least of what’s interesting about The Lady in Gold. Commissioned at the turn of the last century in Austria, it was looted by the Nazis and the subject of an intrigue that sounds like a spy novel.
O’Connor’s book looks at not only the story of how this painting was brought to America, where it now resides at the Neue Galerie in N.Y., but about the era in which it was created and the cast of characters involved in its creation. Patroness-of-the-arts Adele Bloch-Bauer sounds like a fascinating character, for one, a rebellious woman who longed for an education at a time when women, even rich women, weren’t allowed to get one, and learned what they could from salons.
On March 6, KCRW and Zocalo are co-hosting a talk with the author. She now lives in Mexico City, and said she first read about the intrigue of The Lady in Gold in an item in the West Side News. Can’t wait to read this book (which the generous hostess of the luncheon gifted to the 44 ladies in attendance.) Now, that’s an arts patron!
Here’s our talk: