From Vienna to Vegas | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

From Vienna to Vegas

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When smooth-talking Danny Ocean (George Clooney) strides into the gleaming office of Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) in Ocean’s Thirteen, the scene must instantly and wordlessly convey Benedict’s position as the reigning king of Vegas casinos—and therefore the only person who can bail Ocean and his ever growing crew out of their latest high-stakes snafu.

This is Vegas, land of illusions, so a slick, spacious office and a sharply tailored linen suit offer no guarantees. But there it is, hovering over Benedict’s desk like a framed diploma, that unmistakable mark of a modern-day mogul: a large, gold-flecked painting by Gustav Klimt.

In the film, Benedict is the boss of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino, so the producers went right to the source. They filmed the scene in the real-life office of Terry Lanni, the chairman and CEO of MGM Mirage, the company that owns the Bellagio and favors art nouveau flourishes. In 2000, the MGM Grand underwent an $85 million remodeling that included redesigning a number of suites based on Klimt prints.

Klimt’s fin-de-siècle decadence is championed by powerful executives worldwide, not just in Vegas. In June of 2006, cosmetics magnate Ronald Lauder paid a staggering $135 million for Klimt’s 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (pictured above) for New York’s Neue Galerie. “This is our Mona Lisa," Lauder told Fortune last fall. Once ambassador to Austria, Lauder became enamored with Klimt as a teenager, when he learned German in order to read the only available books about the artist.

Given Lauder’s status as one of the world’s preeminent Klimt fans (Klimtomanics?), it comes as a surprise that the French house of Guerlain—and not Estee Lauder—is behind the new limited edition fragrance created as a tribute to Klimt. Nuit d’Amour, which the company describes as “floral, powdery, and woody," is inspired by the artist’s Lady with Hat and Feather Boa (1909).

And what better way to celebrate the 145th anniversary of Klimt’s birth on July 14th? Packaged in a Baccarat crystal flacon that is nestled inside a bronze-lacquered wooden case, Nuit d’Amour is the perfect gift for the Klimtomaniac who has everything. Priced at $2,600 per bottle, it’s surely selling briskly in Vegas.

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