Paul Gauguin masterpiece sold for 'record US$300 million'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 February, 2015, 6:35am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 February, 2015, 6:35am
AP

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A painting by French post-impressionist Paul Gauguin has reportedly become the most expensive work of art ever sold, raking in a record-breaking US$300 million.

The oil painting, called Nafea faa ipoipo? - Tahitian for When will you marry? - and showing two Tahitian women, had belonged to the Swiss Staehelin family for almost 100 years. Earlier this week, Swiss media citing unidentified art world insiders reported that the 1892 painting was bought by Qatari royalty for US$300 million, making it the most expensive painting ever.

Ruedi Staehelin, of the Staehelin Family Trust, said: "The contract has been signed, the sale and handover will take place in January 2016," Staehelin said. "According to the contract I can't provide any information on the buyer or the price."

In an interview with Swiss paper Basler Zeitung, however, Staehelin was quoted as saying about the price: "It's clear that it isn't just a figure in the double-digit millions."

The sale was prompted by the current boom on the art market, he told the newspaper.

Qatar Museums, run by the emirate's royal family, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The painting is currently exhibited at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, near the Swiss city of Basel. Before the sale is completed it is scheduled to be shown in Madrid and Washington.

The Kunstmuseum Basel, where the painting had been deposited, said it regretted the sale and the Staehelin Family Trust's simultaneous decision to withdraw other works loaned to its collection.

Staehelin's grandfather, Swiss businessman and art collector Rudolf Staehelin, had purchased the painting in 1917 from the Geneva gallery Maison Moos. The family trust has previously sold paintings by Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne.