A sensuous Paul Gauguin painting of two Tahitian girls has been sold from a Swiss private collection for close to $300 million, 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.
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 half a 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 Staechelin would not say whether the new owner was from Qatar. “I don’t deny it and I don’t confirm it,” Staechelin said, also declining to disclose the price.
The Qatar Museums (formerly the Qatar Museums Authority) in Doha, the emirate’s capital, did not respond to calls and emails seeking comment.
Guy Morin, the mayor of Basel, acknowledged news of the sale of the Gauguin and bemoaned its loss.