Paul Gauguin painting becomes the most expensive work of art
It is still so early on in the year and we’re only just getting into something of a routine when, out of the blue, we hear rumours of a record-breaking sale. Sure, this is something of a norm these days, blockbuster acquisitions being de rigueur, but still, news like this … well, it’s hard to swallow.
Insiders were saying, somewhat confidently, that sources close to them had confirmed that Paul Gaugin’s 1892 painting Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) was snapped up for a thunderous $300 million (approximately £197 million) in a private sale.
This would make it the most expensive work of art ever sold, dwarfing the previous record of $259 million (£158 million), which was the price paid for Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players (also executed in 1892) four years ago.
Finally, after the industry was abuzz with speculation, Rudolf Staechelin, a retired Sotheby’s expert and now former owner of Nafea Faa Ipoipo, confirmed in an interview with the New York Times that the oil painting was no longer part of his family trust.
He wouldn’t however, confirm the price, nor the seller, but, according to the newspaper, two dealers with “knowledge of the matter” state that it was purchased by a Qatari buyer, most likely someone from the royal family.
As to why he decided to sell the painting, Mr Staechelin was candid: “It’s mainly because we got a good offer. The market is very high and who knows what it will be in ten years. I always tried to keep as much together as I could. Over 90 per cent of our assets are paintings hanging for free in the museum [Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland].”
It is also believed that relations between Mr Staechelin and the museum – which has a long history with the family (his father once served as advisor to Kunstmuseum) – had soured. If there is any consolation in the sale, it is that the work will still be accessible by the public and go on show in one of Qatar’s museums, as early as January 2016.
In a statement, Kunstmuseum said that it “profoundly regrets the sale of the painting”, as well as the decision by the Rudolf Staechelin Family Trust to end its long-established agreement to loan works from its collection to the institution (which is comprised of impressionist and post-impressionists works).
“These works, which had been integral to our exhibitions, will be sorely missed at the Kunstmuseum, and we are painfully reminded that permanent loans are still loans,” the statement concluded.
Along with this painting and Cezanne’s, Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud (£89 million), Edvard Munch’s The Scream (£74 million), Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (£73 million), Jackson Pollock’s No. 5 (£73 million) and Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (£65.5 million) are some of the most expensive paintings in the world.
Tweet text: There were rumours in the art industry that Paul Gauguin’s 1892 painting Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) was snapped up for a thunderous $300 million (approximately £197 million) in a private sale. This has been confirmed by its now previous owner Rudolf Staechelin.
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