The sale of an 1892 oil painting of two Tahitian girls by Paul Gauguin this week has set a new record for the most expensive artwork ever purchased – and Qatar is reportedly the buyer.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) belonged to a Swiss collector and was on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel in Switzerland for nearly fifty years.
According to the New York Times, two art dealers said that the painting had been purchased by a Qatari.
However, though the previous owner Rudolf Staechelin confirmed the sale, he did not say to whom the painting went.
“I don’t deny it and I don’t confirm it,” he told the NYT when asked about whether Qatar was the buyer.
According to the newspaper:
“Gauguin’s Tahiti-period paintings are among the most admired and coveted artworks of the Post-Impressionist period. This particular piece, focusing on the enigmatic interplay between two girls in a Polynesian landscape, was painted during the first of the artist’s two spells living in Tahiti.
The painting will still be on display at a special Gauguin exhibition opening this month in Basel at the Beyeler Foundation and then the collection will travel to the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid and the Phillips Collection in Washington. The buyer will take ownership next January, Mr. Staechelin said.”
In an email to Doha News, a Qatar Museums spokesperson said it is not QM’s policy to comment on acquisitions.
But breaking world records would not be a new development for the authority.
In 2011, QM reportedly spent some $250 million for Cezanne’s The Card Players – more than double the price that had ever been paid for a single work of art on auction.
That painting has yet to make a public appearance in Qatar, but the expectation is that it will be on display at the National Museum when it opens in 2016.
Last year, Qatar was also rumored to have bought Pablo Picasso’s famous Child With a Dove painting, which sold for $74.5 million. The artwork had been in the UK for 85 years and was sold privately at a Christie’s auction in 2012.
There was also chatter that QM purchased Edvard Munch’s The Scream, but that purchase turned out to belong to American businessman Leon Black.