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This is the award-winning story of the gold portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the beautiful Muse who Gustav Klimt painted into history as a sensual Mona Lisa of turn-of-the-century Vienna; its fate under Nazi rule, and the battle that revealed its unknown story of heroism and  shimmering genius. It is also the untold story of Gustav Klimt, and his portrait models: the arts patrons and intellectual women who were co-creators of modernism in Vienna. Some were co-creators of modernism in Vienna. Some were romantically linked to Klimt. One may have been his daughter. Their lives unfolded in the glamorous Vienna of Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Hedy Lamarr and Billy Wilder, a lost world that ended with the arrival of Hitler. For years this story languished in obscurity, until the battle to recover Klimt paintings stolen by the Nazis brought these stories to light, along with a rich trove of lost letters and journals about life with Gustav Klimt. 

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Maria Altmann

Maria Altmann was born Maria Bloch-Bauer, the daughter of Therese Bloch-Bauer, whose sister was the Klimt model Adele Bloch-Bauer. Maria, a Vienna debutante, had more conventional aspirations than her famous aunt Adele. She was a soft, sheltered society girl when Hitler marched into Vienna.