Qatar Cézanne purchase points to building of art “museum empire”?


The royal family of Qatar recently purchased Cézanne’s The Card Players for more than USD250 million, the most expensive art acquisition in history. With the purchase, Qatar continues to position itself as a leading international art centre.

Paul Cézanne, 'The Card Players', 1893, oil on canvas.

As reported by Vanity Fair,

The tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar has purchased a Paul Cézanne painting, ‘The Card Players’, for more than USD250 million. The deal, in a single stroke, sets the highest price ever paid for a work of art and upends the modern art market.

If the price seems insane, it may well be, since it more than doubles the current auction record for a work of art. And this is no epic van Gogh landscape or Vermeer portrait, but an angular, moody representation of two Aix-en-Provence peasants in a card game. But, for its USD250 million, Qatar gets more than a post-Impressionist masterpiece; it wins entry into an exclusive club. There are four other Cézanne ‘Card Players’ in the series; and they are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the Courtauld, and the Barnes Foundation. For a nation in the midst of building a museum empire, it’s instant cred.

The Cézanne sale actually took place in 2011, and details of the secret deal are [only] now coming out….

The previous record was set by Jackson Pollack’s ‘No 5’ in 2006, which sold for USD140 million. The painting will likely join Qatar’s other modern and contemporary masterpieces, including works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and a rumoured eleven pieces by Mark Rothko, acquired in 2009, in the Qatar National Museum, set to reopen in 2014. As Art Radar noted in August 2011, Qatar’s spending has made the tiny Gulf nation the world’s single biggest art buyer, with purchases in excess of USD428 million between 2005 and April 2011.

On 9 February 2012 the Takashi Murakami exhibition “Murakami – Ego” opened at Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art, presented by the Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar’s premier cultural institution. It is chaired by the emir’s daughter, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani.


Related Topics: Qatar art happenings, art market watch, globalisation

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