Chinese Film Magnate Buys Van Gogh for $62 Million

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies (1890). Courtesy of Sotheby's.
Vincent van Gogh, Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies (1890). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Wang Zhongjun, chairman of the China-based Huayi Brothers film studio, reportedly bought Van Gogh’s 1890 painting Still Life, Vase with Daises and Poppies (1890) at Tuesday’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale at Sotheby’s New York.

The painting, which depicts a vase of daises and a splash of vibrant red poppies (flowers were a favored subject for Van Gogh), sold for $61.8 million, up from its pre-sale high estimate of $50 million. One of the few works he would sell in his lifetime, Van Gogh painted the still life in June 1890 after his stay at the asylum at St-Rémy, which was highly creative period for artist. During that same month, he also produced his Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which currently holds the auction record for Van Gogh at $82 million. Tragically, the artist attempted to take his life one month later.

According to the sale catalogue, it is speculated that Dr. Paul Gachet facilitated the sale of the painting to Gaston Alexandre Camentron, who would go on to sell it to Paul Cassirer in 1911. The painting is notable for one of the first Van Gogh paintings to be sold in the United States, making its way to the New York Knoedler Gallery in 1928.

Zhongjun is the latest Chinese investor to make a bid on a major work. Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin bought Pablo Picasso‘s Claude et Paloma for $28 million last November at the Christie’s of works from the collection of Jan Krugier. That sale also rose above its $12 million pre-sale estimate.

It looks like the sale has already garnered some criticism from users on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

“One madman buying a painting by another madman,” one person wrote. Another chimed in, “This is how he spends all the investors’ money? What a waste.”

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