Art News



A sensuous Paul Gauguin painting of two Tahitian girls has been sold from a Swiss private collection for close to $300 million (± 4 Trilyun Rupiah), one of the highest prices believed to have been paid for an artwork, according to European and American art world insiders with knowledge of the matter.

“Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?)”, Oil on canvas, 40×30″, Painted by Paul Gauguin in 1892

The sale of the 1892 oil painting, “Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?),” was confirmed by the seller, Rudolf Staechelin, 62, a retired Sotheby’s executive living in Basel, Switzerland, who through a family trust owns more than 20 works in a valuable collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, including the Gauguin, which has been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel for nearly a half-century.

Two dealers with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be named because of concerns over client confidentiality, said the painting had been purchased by a Qatari buyer, but Mr. Staechelin would not say whether the new owner was from Qatar, a tiny, oil-rich emirate.  Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani who serves as the Chairperson of Qatar Museums is said to have purchased this painting in February 2015 through private auction. However, the Qatar Museums (formerly the Qatar Museums Authority) in Doha did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

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.

Details of the painting

The front and middle ground are built up in areas of green, yellow and blue. A traditionally dressed young woman has settled on the threshold between the front and middle ground. Richard Field suggests the white tiare flower behind her left ear indicates she is seeking a husband. Behind her a second figure in a high-necked Western-style dress sits erectly. Field thought her gesture derives from Buddhist art.

Naomi E. Maurer subsequently identified it as a mudra denoting threatening or warning. The front woman stretches herself, her facial features stylized and simplified. Field thought her pose had a Japanese precedent, Charles F. Stuckey suggests Delacroix’s Women of Algiers, he rear female figure is flush with the yellow-blue area. Her face is painted with individual features and represents the centre of the image. The pink color of her dress is clearly distinct from the other colours. At the bottom right is the inscription “NAFEA Faa ipoipo” (When will you marry). Gauguin commonly inscribed his paintings in Tahitian at this time: he was fascinated by the language, though never advanced beyond its rudiments.

(Sources : Wikipedia and New York Times)



In September 2015 David Geffen, an American business magnate and art collector, sold De Kooning’s oil painting “Interchange” for $300 million (4 Trilyun Rupiah) to hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin. As of 2016 this is the highest price paid for a painting, even when inflation is taken into account, perhaps matched by the sale for “close to $300 million” of Paul Gauguin’s When Will You Marry? in February 2015.

“Interchange”, Oil in canvas, 79×69″, Painted by Abstract Expressionist Painter Willem de Kooning in 1955

Ken Griffin, who runs his $25 billion hedge fund empire out of Chicago, is on the board of trustees of the Art Institute of Chicago and “Interchange” painting is on display at the Art Institute.

The “Interchange”, a seminal masterpiece of Abstract Expressionism from the prime date of 1955, was originally sold for a record $20.68 million in 1989 against an estimate of $4-6 million, the highest price ever paid for a contemporary work at auction and a record for a living artist. The work had been sold at auction by the estate of Edgar J. Kauffman Jr., who had bought the painting in 1955 for $4,000. The buyer at the time was a Japanese collector who went by the name of Mountain Tortoise. The painting was ultimately resold after the crash of 1990 and was until recently the cornerstone of the collection of producer David Geffen.

(Sources : Wikipedia, Art Market Monitor, and CNN)