Impressive Auction Highlights from Austrian Collectors

Launch Slideshow

Over the past 35 years, Sotheby’s Vienna has been involved in a large number of exciting consignments that have gone on to be sold at locations around the world. Many of the major works sourced in Austria have been from private collectors and museums, while others have consigned through restitutions. Click ahead to read the stories of 11 highlights with Austrian provenance, including the most expensive Old Master painting ever sold at auction.

For more information about Sotheby's Vienna, view our Vienna location page.

Impressive Auction Highlights from Austrian Collectors

  • Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents. Sold for £49,506,650 at Sotheby’s London.
    History was made at Sotheby’s in July 2002 when a previously unknown early work by Sir Peter Paul Rubens sold for £49.5 million, making it the most expensive Old Master painting ever sold to this day. The painting depicted Herod's slaughter of all the infants in Bethlehem, following the birth of Jesus.


  • A Marble Torso of an Emperor, 1st half of the 1st Century A.D. Sold for $7,362,500 at Sotheby’s New York.
    The provenance of this Roman imperial marble torso is as fascinating as the sculpture itself. The high-quality live-size sculpture, probably representing Augustus, Tiberius or Claudius, was originally housed in one of the Twin Temples of the Roman forum of Salona in Dalmatia. It was acquired by the collector Aloys Maximilian Neumann in the mid-19th century and was subsequently thought to have been lost. It was rediscovered behind a boarded-up door during the renovation of a villa in Graz. Neumann's descendants had no clue that this treasure was hidden in their house and decided to sell it at Sotheby’s in 2010, where it realised more than $7 million.

  • A Marble Group of Three Satyrs Fighting a Serpent, circa 1st Century A.D. Sold for $ 3,442,500 at Sotheby’s New York.
    In the same villa in Graz, this exceptional marble group of three satyrs fighting a serpent was found hidden behind a cupboard. At the time of the auction in 2010, this Roman imperial group was the only surviving and identifiable ancient marble sculptures from Lorenzo de’ Medici’s collection in Florence and achieved $3.4 million.

  • Egon Schiele, Häuser mit Bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II). Sold for £24,681,250 at Sotheby’s London.
    Painted in 1914, Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) is one of Schiele’s most impressive townscapes. Combining the river in the foreground, the fields in the background and the colourful houses and drying laundry stretching along the middle of the composition, it unites the natural and the man-made in a harmonious and vivid composition. In 2011 the work came to auction for the first time from the collection of the Leopold Museum in Vienna. With a final price of more than £24 million, Häuser mit bunter Wäsche (Vorstadt II) is the most expensive painting by the artist ever sold at auction.

  • Gustav Klimt, Kirche in Cassone (Landschaft mit Zypressen). Sold for £26,921,250 at Sotheby’s London.
    This jewel-like painting depicts the village of Cassone on Lake Garda in Italy and was painted during Klimt’s visit to the region in 1913. Sold for more than £26 million in 2010, it is not only the most expensive landscape painting by the artist, but also the first private restitution at Sotheby’s. It once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian iron magnate and collector Victor Zuckerkandl and his wife Paula, and went missing in Vienna during the Nazi period. When, decades later, the painting resurfaced in an Austrian private collection, acquired in good faith and with legal title, the owners voluntarily agreed with the Zuckerkandl heir to offer this painting at auction.

  • Gustav Klimt, Litzlberg am Attersee. Sold for $40,400,000 at Sotheby´s New York.
    Klimt's dramatic view of lake Attersee , where the artist and his model Emilie Flöge spent their summer months, is one of his most accomplished and celebrated landscapes. Like Klimt’s Kirche in Cassone , the work once formed part the collection of the Austro-Hungarian iron magnate Viktor Zuckerkandl and his wife Paula. After their death in 1927 the painting entered the collection of Victor’s sister Amalie Redlich, who was deported and died in Lodz in 1941. The painting came into collection of the Residenzgalerie of Salzburg, who ultimately returned the painting to Amalie Redlich's heir in the spring of 2011. In the same year the painting was sold at Sotheby's for more than $40 million, making it the second most expensive landscape painting by the artist. A part of the proceeds were donated by the heirs to the museum in Salzburg to build an extension in Redlich's honour.

  • Gustav Klimt, Bildnis Gertrud Loew (Gertha Felsövány). Sold for £24,789,000 at Sotheby’s London.
    Gustav Klimt’s exquisite representations of women have led him to be considered as the most celebrated painter of the female portrait of the early 20th-century. This extraordinarily beautiful and captivating portrait, Bildnis Gertrud Loew , depicts the ethereal figure of Gertrud Loew, later known by her married name Gertha Felsöványi, a member of fin-de-siècle Viennese society, wreathed in diaphanous folds of gossamer fabric. The sale in June 2015 followed a settlement between the Felsöványi family and The Klimt Foundation, Vienna .

  • Egon Schiele, Liebespaar (Selbstdarstellung mit Wally). Sold for £7,881,250 at Sotheby’s London.
    In this transfixing double portrait , Schiele expresses the emotional turmoil involved in the ending of his relationship with Wally Neuzil. It came to auction together with two other Schiele works on paper from the Leopold Museum Private Foundation in 2013 and set an auction record for a work on paper by the artist.

  • Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, An Important Lead Bust of the so-called “Ill Humored Man”. Sold for $4,832,000 at Sotheby's New York.
    Franz Xaver Messerschmidt was one of the most progressive and remarkable artists of his time. This exquisitely sculpted character head , one of three heads with a band over the mouth of the sitter, was restituted to the Beer-Hoffmann family in New York by the Wien Museum and bought by the Louvre for more than $4.8 million in 2005.

  • Important natural pearl and diamond necklace, circa 1880. Sold for CHF1,142,500 at Sotheby’s Geneva.
    This magnificent necklace with seven rows of natural pearls and a clasp with circular-cut and cushion-shaped diamonds from the estate of the late Prince Kinsky sold for more than CHF1.1 million in 2012.

  • Château Latour 1995, 12 bottles. Sold for £4,700 at Sotheby's London.
    Archetypal Latour from a superb vintage, this case of Latour 1995 was bought by an Austrian collector en primeur (i.e. whilst still in barrel in Bordeaux).  Following release, the wine was perfectly stored in his temperature controlled cellar presenting the new owner with a wine in excellent condition that is both drinking beautifully now but equally could be enjoyed for decades to come.  This lot was part of an outstanding collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy from the same cellar which attracted competitive bidding from across Europe and Asia.


We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.