Media mogul Oprah Winfrey never ceases to amaze hordes of adoring fans with her enviable accomplishments. In addition to being one of the most famous television personalities of our generation, she is also an astute art collector.
The OWN network founder managed to acquire a renowned Gustav Klimt painting, for which she earned an incredible $60 million profit after selling it to an anonymous Chinese buyer. The portrait is undoubtedly one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.”
Oprah owned one of the most expensive paintings in Viennese art history
In 2006, Winfrey purchased a 1912 Gustav Klimt painting at Christie’s auction house for an astounding $87.9 million. The magazine editor added Adele Bloch-Bauer II to her impressive collection, and in 2014 loaned it to the Museum of Modern Art, where it was displayed in the fifth-floor gallery.
According to Architectural Digest, a wealthy Jewish industrialist from Vienna commissioned Klimt. The well-to-do art patron wanted the aspiring artist to paint a portrait of his wife. She became the only full-length subject that Klimt painted twice.
In 1907, the Austrian-born artist completed the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Indicative of the “Golden Style” of the era, the painting was nicknamed Woman in Gold. Five years later, the second painting, Adele Bloch-Bauer II, represented the woman in a colorful work of art, appearing more conventional with underlying jewel tones. This is the multi-million dollar piece that Winfrey owned.
ArtNet explained the two portraits “were part of one of the biggest Nazi-looted art restitution cases in history.” The paintings were stolen during World War II and later became the property of the Austrian state museum. After a lengthy legal battle, the heirs of Klimt’s estate retained ownership, eventually turning it over to Christie’s for auction.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the family sold the 1907 canvas painting to Ronald Lauder, the son of perfume tycoon Estee Lauder. He purchased the artwork in 2006 for $135 million and currently displays it at his private museum, the Neue Galerie, in New York City.
The intriguing story became the focus of the 2015 motion picture, Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.
How Oprah made $60 million profit on the famous painting
In what Bloomberg called “one of the biggest private art deals of 2016,” Winfrey sold the Klimt painting for an astonishing $150 million. The sale provided The Color Purpleactor with a 71 percent return on her investment, making a $62.1 million profit on the transaction.
Art dealer Larry Gagosian approached the billionaire entrepreneur to negotiate the record-breaking deal. Bloomberg reported that Winfrey allowed the Neue Galerie to temporarily display the painting before giving it to its new owner. The portrait hung alongside its counterpart for the “Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900-1918” exhibition.
Afterward, an unidentified Chinese art collector took possession of the Adele Bloch-Bauer II masterpiece.
Her extensive art collection
Winfrey is a longtime patron of the arts and owns an extensive art collection amongst her many homes. In 2015, when she closed Harpo Studios in Chicago, the media tycoon held an auction of her personal belongings, with the proceeds going to charity.
According to ArtNet, an oil painting by Hovsep Pushman titled The Little Mother held a value between $35,000 and $45,000. The Red Scarf by Richard Edward Miller, depicting a naked woman staring out a window, had an estimated value of $80,000 to $120,000.
On the Oprah website, a tour of the library in her California home features two paintings by Harry Roseland. The famous 1945 painting from Thomas Hart Benton, titled Back from the Fields, holds a prestigious position above her mantel.
Celebrity Net Worth reported that Winfrey earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 from President Barack Obama. The richest self-made woman in America, who has an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion, donated $12 million to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum’s 350-seat theater is named after her.
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