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Most Expensive Painting Ever is off to Qatar

February 7, 2012

The sale of Paul Cezanne’s ‘Card Players’ nearly doubles the existing record (Jackson Pollock’s No. 5) for most expensive work of art of all time (so far).  Vanity Fair first reported that this masterpiece of modern painting has been acquired by the tiny oil-rich nation of Qatar for more than $250 million.  The art historical significance of Cezanne and this work in particular help to explain the record shattering price.  This is a significant move by the tiny nation, instantly making Qatar a player on the rapidly expanding global stage of the art market.  This Card Players was one of the last major paintings to be held in a private collection.  The painting is one of five in a series that Cezanne painted,   (The painting was sold from the collection of Greek Shipping magnate George Embiricos.)  The other 4 card players are in The Met (New York), Musee d’Orsay (Paris), the Courtauld Institute (London), and Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia).

This painting gives the Royal Family’s collection instant credibility and will help to establish Qatar as an important cultural city.  They have also been opening American university campus’s, museums and more over the last decade.  Get a sense of Qatar in this 60 Minutes segment from January.  One of the driving forces behind the country’s spending spree on western art is the Emir’s 28 year old daughter.  Over the  past six years Qatar has acquired loads of  museum quality work including Warhol’s, Hirst’s, and the ‘Rockafeller Rothko.’  The Art Newspaper recently reported that Qatar is the biggest buyer in the art market over the last six years.  In addition to building a world class permanent collection, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar is opening a Takashi Murakami exhibition this week.  Qatar is rapidly making a name for itself in the art world, and as host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, don’t expect it to slow down any time soon.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2013 10:18 PM

    The royal family has been avidly buying art for the past fifty years (her relative Sheikh Saud Bin Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Thani was recently named one of the world’s top ten collectors by ARTnews; a global spending spree ended in his arrest in 2005 for misuse of public funds). However, Qatar really entered the global cultural stage in 2008 with the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the country’s capital. Based on Sheikh Saud’s collection and designed by I.M. Pei, it is considered by many to be one of the top ten museums in the world.

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