Over the past several years, the tiny nation of Qatar has embarked on a buying and building spree to become the world’s most powerful collector of modern art.
Now the country has topped off its collection with the purchase of the Paul Cézanne painting, The Card Players, for which it paid more than $250 million, according to a new report in Vanity Fair. The price is more than double the previous auction record for a painting, and makes the work by far the most expensive piece of art ever sold.
The painting, which “father of modern art” Cézanne completed at the turn of the century, is one of five in a series. The rest are in museums and major collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Vanity Fair‘s Alexandra Peers writes.
The acquisition was actually made in 2011, but under a veil of secrecy, as so many art purchases are made in Qatar. Details have emerged as art world insiders head to Doha for the opening of a major Takashi Murakami exhibit, according to VF.
The Cézanne previously belonged to Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos, who died late last year. Before his death, two art dealers—William Acquavella and another, rumoured to be Larry Gagosian—offered around $220 million for the painting, but were beat out by the Qataris, VF reported.
The purchase, while remarkable, is just the latest in a string of headlines about Qatar’s penchant for art. In November, Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, daughter of the Emir of Qatar and chair of the board of the Qatar Museums Authority, was named the most powerful person in the art world by Art & Auction magazine.
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