Van Gogh watercolor auctioned for over €31 million
A work by painter Vincent van Gogh fetched a record amount of $35.85 million (31.35 million euros) at an auction in New York on Thursday. It concerns the watercolor Meules de blé (Wheat Stacks), a canvas once seized by the Nazis.
Auction house Christie's reported that the work yielded twice as much as La Moisson En Provence, the previous record for a Van Gogh work, which sold for almost 15 million dollars in 1997. The sale also exceeded all the experts' expectations, who thought the painting could fetch 25 million euros.
The Dutch artist (1853-1890) painted the work in 1888 while living in Arles, in the south of France. In 1913 it was bought by Max Meirowsky, a German Jew with an enormous art collection. He gave it to a German art dealer in Paris in 1938 for safekeeping before fleeing to Amsterdam because of the persecution of the Jews. The work then came into the possession of Alexandrine de Rothschild, a member of a Jewish banking family. The Nazis seized the painting, and it went missing for decades until it surfaced in 1978 and was bought by Texan oil magnate Edwin L. Cox.
After the oil tycoon's death, the Cox, Meirowsky, and Rothschild families agreed last year that they would each get a share of the proceeds from the painting's sale.
The last time the canvas was on public display was more than a hundred years ago at an exhibition in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum.
Reporting by ANP