The Gulf nation of Qatar has raised the stakes in the fine art world by purchasing Paul Cézanne's painting, The Card Players
, for a record breaking $250 million. The post-impressionist painting is one of five in a series
, believed to be painted circa 1895. Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, described the painting to Vanity Fair
as “the darkest, the most stripped down and essential,” of the five Cézanne Players works.
The price-tag appears to be more related to Qatar's cultural ambitions rather than the paintings actual worth.
According to Forbes
, fine art appraiser Victor Wiener said of the unprecedented price paid “Now, everyone will use this price as a point of departure: it changes the whole art-market structure.” The Qatari royals have been on an art purchasing spree which resulted in the Art Newspaper ranking "Qatar the world’s biggest buyer in the art market in terms of value" in 2011.
Vanity Fair reports that The Card Players
may be displayed in the Qatar National Museum, due to reopen after refurbishment in 2014. The painting previously belonged to Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos, who began to consider parting with it shortly before his death. Qatar outbid rival offers. The daughter of the Emir of Qatar, Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, is thought to have been behind the acquisition of the painting.