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Lady with a Fan sold for £85.3m ($108.4m), making it the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction in Europe

Gustav Klimt’s final painting has sold for £85.3m ($108.4m), making it the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction in Europe.

Lady with a Fan (Dame mit Fächer) was sold to a Hong Kong collector who triumphed in a four-way bidding war at Sotheby’s.

The portrait of the unnamed woman was still on an easel in Klimt’s studio when the painter died in 1918.

It soared past its £65m estimate in an auction that lasted 10 minutes.

The painting, described as “a masterpiece by an artist at the height of his powers”, has strong Asian influences and is part of the Japonisme trend, which refers to the influence of Japanese art and design among Western European artists.

It also features several Chinese motifs including the phoenix, a symbol of immortality and rebirth, and lotus blossoms that signify love.

Gustav Klimt

Helena Newman, the chair of Sotheby’s Europe and worldwide head of impressionist and modern art, said: “Dame mit Fächer is the last portrait Gustav Klimt created before his untimely death, when still in his artistic prime and producing some of his most accomplished and experimental works.

“Many of those works, certainly the portraits for which he is best known, were commissions. This, though, is something completely different – a technical tour de force, full of boundary-pushing experimentation, as well as a heartfelt ode to absolute beauty.”

Lady with a Fan is among the very few portraits by Klimt, a leading figure of the Vienna Secession art movement, to be owned privately. It was last sold in 1994, when it fetched $11.6m (£9m).

The Austrian Symbolist painter is best-known for his work on gold-leaf-encrusted canvases such as The Kiss, 1907-8, and Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907.

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