Admission is being tripled to $50 on an extra weekday for viewing Gustav Klimt’s art nouveau portrait of “Golden Adele,” the world’s most expensive painting.
The 1907 oil of a Viennese society woman in an elegant gown was purchased for a reported $135 million by cosmetics magnate Ronald S. Lauder from the U.S. and Canadian heirs of an Austrian Jewish family, whose art collection was looted by the Nazis.
With crowds queuing up to view the 55-inch-by-55-inch portrait in gold, the Neue Galerie museum announced it will stay open on Wednesdays, from noon to 4 p.m. during the exhibit through Sept. 18.
Regular admission is $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. Normal openings are Thursdays through Mondays, with Tuesdays closed and Wednesdays reserved for members.
The museum seemed unconcerned that the premium entry price might raise eyebrows. The Museum of Modern Art came under criticism in 2004 for boosting entry to $20. The Metropolitan Museum of Art followed suit last week.
“The precedent for our special viewing day comes from the Met, which does $50 special Mondays for its major exhibitions,” Deputy Director Scott Gutterman told The Associated Press on Monday.
The portrait, “Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” and four other Klimts were surrendered by the Austrian government early this year after a lengthy court battle over restitution.
The ensemble went on display last Thursday at Lauder’s museum for German and Austrian art, after their U.S. premiere in April in Los Angeles, where the heirs waged a seven-year legal battle with Austria.
News of Lauder’s purchase and old rumors about a love affair between the artist and his beautiful model whetted public interest in the works.
“We have had about 1,500 (visitors) per day, which is quite high for us,” Gutterman said. “We expect many more in the weeks ahead, especially as it moves toward the closing date.” Crowds line up from the door of the mansion-turned-museum around the corner onto Fifth Avenue.
Lauder confirmed that he shelled out more than the listed world art record of $104.2 million paid at auction for Picasso’s 1905 “Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice).” But he is barred by the purchase agreement from revealing the exact price.
The other four paintings — a full-length oil Adele and three Austrian landscapes — have an estimated worth approaching $140 million.