In case you missed it—and, really, how could you have missed it?—Gauguin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) has been sold. We know that much. Several sources—including adviser Todd Levin and Josh Baer—confirm that the price was around $300m which seems plausible and not too unreasonable. The buyer is fingered as Qatar.
There is a lot more to learn from the New York Times report on the sale, though. Here we see the very smart use of museums as an art bank for a family’s prime asset. The Times spoke to Rudolf Staechlin to learn more about his decision making:
The works were amassed by his grandfather, a Swiss merchant also named Rudolf Staechelin, who befriended artists and made most of his purchases during and after World War I. Later, the elder Mr. Staechelin advised the Kunstmuseum, which accepted the loan of his collection after his death in 1946.
The grandson said that the works had never been hung in his family’s home because they were too precious and that he saw them in a museum along with everyone else. He has decided to sell, he said, because it is the time in his life to diversify his assets. “In a way it’s sad,” he said, “but on the other hand, it’s a fact of life. Private collections are like private persons. They don’t live forever.” […]
Mr. Staechelin said that he had sought a new contract after the museum announced plans to shut down. When canton officials failed to budge on a new contract, he said, he canceled the existing one because of a provision that requires that the artworks be on public display.
“The real question is why only now?” Mr. Staechelin said of the Gauguin sale. “It’s mainly because we got a good offer. The market is very high and who knows what it will be in 10 years. I always tried to keep as much together as I could.” He added, “Over 90 percent of our assets are paintings hanging for free in the museum.”
“For me they are family history and art,” he said of the artworks. “But they are also security and investments.”
Gauguin Painting Is Said to Fetch $300 Million (NYTimes.com)