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2012 Marfield Prize

2012 Marfield Prize Winner:  Anne-Marie O’Connor

The Arts Club of Washington has named Anne-Marie O’Connor the winner of the Seventh Annual Marfield Prize, National Award for Arts Writing for her book, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (Knopf: 2012). The $10,000 award is unique in the world of publishing, and is one of the country’s largest literary prizes given to a single author. The Lady in Gold was selected from among four finalist titles that also included Michael DirdaOn Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling(Princeton University Press); Timothy Egan, The Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); and David ThomsonThe Big Screen: The Story of the Movies(Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Ms. O’Connor was honored on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at a dinner at the Arts Club, 2017 I Street, NW, Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 7:30 p.m., she spoke about her book in a free public program at the Club. The author also spoke with students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts while in DC.


The Lady in Gold tells the story of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, one of the most emblematic portraits of its time; of the beautiful, seductive Viennese Jewish salon hostess who sat for it; the notorious artist who painted it; the now vanished turn-of-the-century Vienna that shaped it; and the strange twisted fate that befell it:  stolen by Nazis and renamed The Lady in Gold, the painting became the subject of a decade-long litigation between the Austrian government and the Bloch-Bauer heirs that went before the US Supreme Court, whose decision had profound ramifications for the art world.

Ms. O’Connor attended Vassar College, studied painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. She was a foreign correspondent for Reuters and a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times for twelve years, and has written extensively on the Klimt painting and the Bloch-Bauer family’s efforts to recover its art collection. Her articles have appeared inEsquire, The Nation, and The Christian Science Monitor. She currently writes forThe Washington Post from Mexico City.


2012 Finalists


Michael Dirda, On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling (Princeton University Press)

Timothy Egan, The Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Anne-Marie O’Connor, The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (Knopf)

David Thomson, The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

2012 Judges

Sophy Burnham, award-winning playwright, novelist, and nonfiction writer

Grace Cavalieri, author and poet, and who produces “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress” for public radio

Ira Silverberg, literature director at the National Endowment for the Arts


Photo credits: Michael Dirda: Chester Simpson; Timothy Egan: Barry Wong; Ann Marie O’Connor: Araceli Garcia; David Thompson: Lucy Gray

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