In February we reported that Gauguin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) was rumoured to have been the world’s most expensive art purchase in history.
The vertiginous $300m price tag for the 1892 oil painting seemed unbelievable – it was $50m higher than the former world record, held by Cezanne’s The Card Players, and almost ten times as much as the previous highest price ever paid for a Gauguin, Te Poipoi (The Morning), also painted in 1892, which went for $39.2m at Sotheby’s in 2007. (The Card Players was also bought by Qatar).
But in advance of the painting going on loan to the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, in July, a press spokesman from the Museo told The Art Newspaper that the rumoured price of Nafea Faa Ipoipo was indeed correct. A press release stated: “Nafea Faa Ipoipo was recently purchased by the Qatar Museums Authority from the Swiss collection of Rudolf Staechelin for more than $300m.”
However, the Rudolf Staechelin Family Trust, who sold the painting, would not confirm the price; Reina Sofia’s press office then clarified that its release had been based on media reports and then “confirmed with our own sources”. The press release no longer appears on the Museum’s website.