A Paul Gauguin painting of two Tahitian girls has smashed the record for the world’s most expensive single work of art, after Qatar bought the canvas from a Swiss collector for almost $300 million.
The 1892 oil painting by the French post-impressionist called Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) was sold by the private collector Rudolf Staechelin, a retired Sotheby’s executive from Basel, the New York Times reported.
Staechelin, 62, declined to name the buyer but it was thought to be the state-financed Qatar Museums. The Gulf nation had set the previous record in 2011 when it paid $259 million for The Card Players by Paul Cezanne, and has spent millions more on Western modern art in recent years.
The painting had been hanging in Basel’s Kunstmuseum (art museum) on loan more than 60 years, but was sold after Mr Steachelin apparently fell out with the institution, withdrawing all his works.
“We are painfully reminded that permanent loans are still loans,” the Basel museum said.
Staechelin said that he made the sale to diversify his family trust’s investments, which are largely tied up in a collection of 26 valuable impressionist and post-impressionist works amassed of by his grandfather.
Experts said that the sale could be the start of a new trend of trophy sales that bypass auction houses in favour of lucrative direct deals.
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