This weekend, news spread that Paul Cezanne’s “The Card Players” was purchased for $250 million by the Qatari royal family from the collection of the late Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos. The staggering price is almost double the previous record for a work of art.
A new Vanity Fair article includes comments from experts who herald the sale as a watershed moment signalling the rise of private sales driven by new buyers from Asia, Russia and the Middle East.
A pre-cursor to the cubist movement, “The Card Players” is the last of five studies painted by Cézanne between 1890 and 1895 in and around the family estate in Provence. The other four works are in museum collections.
The tiny oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar has been a major player in the international art market for several years, focusing primarily on modern and contemporary masters such as Damien Hirst, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.
Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the 28-year-old daughter of Qatar’s Emir, is one of the driving forces behind the country’s growing art collection and the Cezanne may be headed to the Qatar National Museum.
A Jackson Pollock held the previous record for most expensive painting when it sold privately in 2006 to Mexican financier David Martinez for $140 million.