The Christies Evening Auction of Impressionist and Modern Art took place last night at their Rockefeller Center salerooms. Although the stars of the sale were the 4 remaining Klimt paintings restituted to the Bloch-Bauer family, there was an 11th hour drama involving another painting, a blue period Picasso entitled "Portrait de Angel Fernandez de Soto", 1903, that was being auctioned by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. A last minute legal action blocking the sale was filed on behalf of the original owner, Paul von Mendelssohn-Bertholdy, a wealthy Jewish banker, whose heirs now claim that this painting was sold under duress in Nazi Germany. Although a Federal judge had dismissed the case the day before, Christies and Mr. Lloyd Webber's Foundation ultimately decided to withdraw the painting from the sale last evening.
The loss of this magnificent painting from the roster did not seem to impede the results of the auction. The evening's sales totalled a record shattering $491 Million, including Christie's commissions. The Klimts performed as expected: "Birch Forest" $40,336,000, "Houses at Unterach on the Attersee" $31,376,000, "Apple Tree I" $33,056,000, and the spectacular "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II" $87,936,000! Not a bad night's work!