Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Art World's Best Kept Secret

This weekend, fine art dealers throughout the globe were stunned by reports that the most significant art sale the world has ever seen had taken place in secret early in 2011, the details of which have just been released.

The painting in question is the much-sought-after Card Players (or Les Joueurs des Cartes) by the French post-impressionist painter, Paul C├ęzanne, which had previously been in the possession of the Greek shipping magnate, George Embiricos. And the buyer? Why, none other than the seriously minted Qatari royal family.

George Embiricos
The very fact that the transaction has been kept under wraps for so long is astonishing. Since his death early last year, there has been intense interest in Embiricos’ extensive art collection - hardly surprising considering the tycoon had jealously guarded his paintings for many years, repeatedly refusing requests to lend them to some of the world’s leading art galleries and museums (to the extent that much of his collection had not been seen by the public in decades). Given this level of attention, it was simply inconceivable to many that a deal of this magnitude could be completed without a hint leaking to the press.

But, if the level of secrecy which surrounded the transaction had surprised the art market cognoscenti, they were to be confounded further by the revelation that the painting had changed hands for a staggering $250 million (£160 million). This huge price tag makes Card Players the most expensive painting ever sold – easily overtaking the previous record (a Jackson Pollack which had been bought by a Mexican financier for $140 million or £90 million).

Rothko's White Centre
Indeed, this is not the first time Qatar’s ruling family have parted with extravagant sums for works of art – they have recently bought Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) for $73 million and a pill cabinet by Damian Hirst for $20 million.

All this has led to accusations that the Qatari royal family’s immense purchasing power is over-inflating prices in the fine art market, which, thanks to a scarcity of great works in private hands, is already ridiculously expensive.

And while there is some veracity in such sentiments, it should be noted that, unlike the George Embiricoses of the world, the Qataris intend to put their acquisitions on display to the public in Doha. To my mind, that is infinitely more preferable to having a treasure such as Card Players languishing forlornly, unseen and unappreciated, in some dusty private collection far away from an admiring public.

1 comment:

  1. Jackson Pollocks most important painting from 1949 New York belongs to Tehran Museum.
    Value 276.000.000 US$ (not for sale)

    JACKSON POLLOCK number 16, 1949
    Price Realized: $32,645,000


    Jackson Pollock no. 19, 1948

    $58.363.750, 15. May 2013

    Jackson Pollock no. 5,
    sold, 140 million US $

    Jackson Pollock Number 28, 1951
    $23,042,500 May 8, 2012

    Jackson Pollock most important painting, (located in Denmark) no title; 1948 New York.
    Painting, Oil, 136 x 145 cm (53.54 x 57.09 in) signed.

    What would you pay for the last Jackson Pollock painting for sale in world? 20$ million? 100 million$?