An 1892 painting by French Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin recently sold for $300 million, possibly setting the record for the highest amount ever paid for a work of art. The sale of the colorful oil painting depicting two Tahitian women called Nafea Faa Ipoipo, which translates in English as Will You Marry Me?, was confirmed by the seller, Rudolf Staechelin, 62, of Basel, Switzerland.
Staechelin’s family trust owns more than 20 other valuable pieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artworks. As reported by the New York Times, the Gauguin piece had been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel for nearly half a century before it was sold to a Qatari buyer. However, due to confidentiality, Staechelin would not confirm if the buyer lived in Qatar, nor would he confirm the price paid for the painting.
Even though it was sold to a private party, there are hopes that the painting would be put on public display. Other paintings sold to buyers in Qatar have been loaned to museums in the emirate. The rumored $300 million price tag beat out the previous record for a painting, which was $250 million for Paul Cezanne’s painting, The Card Players, which was sold in 2011 to another Qatari buyer. The Cezanne has not been put on display since it was purchased.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, one reason for the sell of the Gauguin may be Staechelin’s displeasure with renovations being made at the Kunstmuseum. He has also removed other pieces of artwork that were on loan to the museum. The painting was a point of pride for Basel and, in a statement made by the museum, it “profoundly regrets” the sale of the oil painting and the removal of the other pieces.
It isn’t clear when the Kunstmuseum will be required to turn over the art to the new owner. It was still on display at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel as of Sunday, and it is expected to be included in an exhibit at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. in October. Staechelin is reportedly looking for other museums to display pieces of the family’s art collection, which includes works by artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Pissarro.
As the Inquisitr reported, art buying seems to be a hobby of the rich in Qatar as the head of Qatar Museums Authority, Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani, supposedly spends about $1 billion a year on artwork. She has been identified as the buyer of the $250 million Cezanne.
[Video from the Wall Street Journal; Image courtesy of BBC News]