Art Market

A rare Paul Gauguin painting sold for $10.5 million at a Paris auction.

Christy Kuesel
Dec 4, 2019 5:07PM, via AFP

Paul Gauguin, Te Bourao II, 1897. Sold for €9.5 million ($10.5 million). Photo © Artcurial.

A painting by Paul Gauguin sold for €9.5 million ($10.5 million) at an auction in Paris on Tuesday, achieving a price nearly double its estimate at the auction house Artcurial. The work, Te Bourao II (1897), is the first work from artist’s Tahitian period presented on the French market in over 20 years, and comes from a series of nine paintings. It depicts a nature scene, painted in rich blues and greens.

The buyer is an international collector who will keep the painting in France, according to Artcurial. Te Bourao II was purchased from the heirs of influential art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who supported Gauguin’s work in the late 1800s. The painting has been featured in many renowned exhibitions on Gauguin’s Tahitian period and was previously loaned to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for 10 years. The other eight paintings from Gauguin’s 1897 series all hang in museum collections, including those of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Musée d’Orsay.

Gauguin’s work is known for bringing in exceptionally high prices: In 2015, his painting When Will You Marry (1892) was reported to have sold for as much as $300 million; a lawsuit later revealed that the buyer, the emir of Qatar, had actually paid $210 million in 2014. The artist’s auction record is $40.3 million, set back in 2006 at Christie’s. Tuesday’s result at Artcurial represents Gauguin’s 17th-highest auction result.

Gauguin, who died in 1903, has become a controversial figure in recent years due to his depictions of nude Tahitian girls, including several of his underage lovers. An exhibition of Gauguin’s portraits at the National Gallery in London asks the question of whether Gauguin’s works should be shown by art institutions at all.

Christy Kuesel