A painting of two Tahitian women by Paul Gauguin has sold for a reported $300m (nearly £200m), smashing the record price for a single piece of art.
The identity of the buyer was not revealed but speculation was rife that the masterpiece will follow the previous record-holder, a Cezanne that sold for $250m (about £165m) in 2011, to Qatar.
The post-impressionist work, called Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), was painted in 1892, a year after Gauguin arrived in Tahiti and it was the most expensive painting in his exhibition at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris the following year.
It has hung on the walls of the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, for almost half a century, loaned by a Swiss family trust.
Experts were surprised at the size of the Gauguin sale. Philip Hoffman, chief executive of the Fine Art Fund Group, said: “It is an amazing picture but $300m seems a huge amount of money. But in the Impressionist market a few ‘megapictures’ will always fetch over $100m.”
Rudolf Staechelin, who manages the Staechelin Family Trust that owned the Gauguin, confirmed the sale but did not reveal the price or buyer.