Whether you call it the Midas touch or the Oprah Winfrey Factor, there’s no denying that everything touched by the iconic American talk show host seems to turn to gold. Oprah’s Book Club picks often become bestsellers, and the release of Oprah’s annual “favourite things” list sends her fans scurrying to the nearest mall.
It would also appear that anything the media megastar owns is equally valuable, as evidenced by her recent sale of a Gustav Klimt painting to an unnamed Chinese buyer for US$150 million (HK$1.2 billion). She originally purchased the painting for US$88 million back in 2006 – which at the time was the fourth-most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Even without the ‘O’ influence, the artwork in question, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, is a bona fide masterpiece. Painted in 1912, the artwork depicts the Austrian artist’s friend and patron, Adele Bloch-Bauer – the wife of a wealthy Viennese industrialist. In 1938, the painting was seized by Nazis, who also made off with other items from the Bloch-Bauer family’s collection. After the war, the painting’s fraught history continued with lengthy court proceedings to determine its rightful owner – a legal battle so fierce that it inspired the 2015 film Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren. In 2006, the works were finally restored to the rightful Bloch-Bauer heirs, and subsequently sold to private collectors and, of course, the eagle-eyed Oprah.