7 Feb 2015

Gauguin painting most expensive sold

8:17 pm on 7 February 2015

A painting of two Tahitian girls by the French artist Paul Gauguin has been sold for $US300 million making it the most expensive work of art ever sold.

Nafea Faa Ipoipo, or When Will You Marry?, was painted in 1892 and had been owned by a Swiss collector, the BBC reports.

Reports suggest it was sold to a museum in Qatar.

The small oil-rich state paid the previous highest price for a painting, a work by Paul Cezanne which sold for $US259 million.

Before its sale, the Gaugin artwork had been owned by Rudolf Staechelin, a collector from Basel.

For decades it had been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel but Mr Staechelin decided to sell the painting after a disagreement with the museum.

Mr Staechelin told the New York Times he would not divulge the identity of the buyer.

It was not immediately clear where the sale had taken place.

However the paper, which first reported the sale, quoted sources saying the painting had been sold to Qatari buyers.

Officials in Qatar have not yet confirmed the purchase.

The sheikhdom's royal family has in recent years spent vast amounts of money on Western art.

Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani, a former minister of culture who died last year, lavished more than $US1 billion of the country's money on artworks.

Qatar sponsored a 2012 Damien Hirst retrospective in the UK which later moved to the country's capital Doha, and has invested large sums of money financing museums of Islamic and modern Arab art.