One of Paul Gauguin’s signature color saturated paintings depicting a pair of Tahitian girls has recently earned the enviable distinction of being the most expensive artwork in the world. The 1892 oil painting titled “Nafea Faa Ipoipo” (When Will You Marry?) was formerly owned by Rudolf Staechelin and is believed to be purchased by a group of state museums in Qatar (although Staechelin did not confirm and details regarding the buyer). The painting changed hands for a record sum in the vicinity of $300 million. You can pick your jaw off the floor now.
Staechelin owned the now historic painting as well as several other pieces of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art (including other works by Gauguin, van Gogh, Picasso and Pissarro) through a family trust that had provided the works to the Kunstmuseum Basel on loan. As a result of a falling out with the local canton. Staechelin was on the lookout for other museums to host his family’s enviable collection.
The air is thick with rumors about the buyers though. Speculation about the buyer being Qatari is for the moment just that- speculation as the Qatar Museums (formerly the Qatar Museums Authority) in Doha, the emirate’s capital, did not respond to the New York Times’ calls and emails seeking comment. When asked about whether the buyer was Qatari, Staechelin stated, “I don’t deny it and I don’t confirm it.” He also did not disclose the price.
The recent years Qatar has been expanding a collection of high quality Western art. In 2011, the oil rich state paid something like $250 million for Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players.” Only time will tell how much of this new sale is fact and how much is fiction. Gauguin himself was one of those artists whose work wasn’t truly celebrated until after their passing. If only he had been around to see the fuss now!
[Via – NY-Times]