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Gaugin Going

Posted on October 01, 2015

Gaugin When Will You MarryThis month, the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. unveils a showcase of two Swiss collectors of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modernist works: Rudolf Staechelin and Karl Im Obersteg. Their collections, gathered throughout the first half of the 20th century, are usually housed at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland, making this the first time many of the works—which include paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Marc Chagall—have been shown in the U.S.

But it may also be the last time for visitors to see Paul Gauguin’s Nafea faa ipoipo? (When Will You Marry?) The 1892 oil painting of a pair of Tahitian women is a major piece in the Staechelin collection. But when this showing ends on January 10, 2016, it enters the hands of a private collector who reportedly purchased the painting for almost $300 million—making it the most expensive work of art, ever.

Though the buyer has remained anonymous, chances are that once it enters the private collection, public exhibit of the work will decrease, if not cease altogether. Such a fate would hardly be unique in the art world.

“We forget that not all famous artworks are on display in museums or other public places,” says Susan Dixon, chair of the department of art and art history at La Salle University in Philadelphia. “There are many famous art works which are in the hands of private owners.”

Read the full story at Rhapsody.

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