A painting by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh († 1890) was auctioned in New York for the record price of 35.8 million dollars (almost 31 million euros).
According to the auction house Christie’s, “Meules de blé” from 1888 achieved the highest price ever paid for a work by the Dutch artist painted on paper.
The painting shows a haystack in Arles, France, where van Gogh lived in the 1880s. In contrast to his most famous oil paintings, the “Meules de blé” is made with watercolor, gouache, pen and ink on paper.
It hadn’t been on public display for 116 years before it was shown at Christie’s auction house! Most recently during a Van Gogh retrospective in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum in 1905.
After the artist’s suicide, two years after the painting was completed, the work first went to his brother Theo van Gogh. The Jewish collector Max Meirowsky bought it in 1913 and had to forcibly sell it in 1938 to finance his escape to Amsterdam.
It then changed hands several times until it was confiscated by the Nazi regime in Paris during the Second World War. It was then considered lost until the 1970s.
The whereabouts of “Meules de blé” remained a secret for years – until the Texan oil magnate Edwin Cox bought it in 1979 after it had appeared a year earlier in the Wildenstein & Co. gallery in New York. He exhibited the work in the salon of his house in Dallas, but told only a few about it.
After he died in 2020, Christie’s said it acquired it through a comparison with the heirs of the collector and the heirs of Max Meirowsky.
But who the new owner is will probably remain a secret for the time being