Self-portrait of artist who fled Nazis sells for 23 mln euros in Germany

A striking self-portrait created by artist Max Beckmann during World War Two after he fled Nazi Germany was sold for 23.2 million euros on Thursday, a record price for a painting auctioned in Germany, Villa Grisebach auction house said.


Reuters | Berlin | Updated: 02-12-2022 01:11 IST | Created: 02-12-2022 01:11 IST
Self-portrait of artist who fled Nazis sells for 23 mln euros in Germany
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A striking self-portrait created by artist Max Beckmann during World War Two after he fled Nazi Germany was sold for 23.2 million euros on Thursday, a record price for a painting auctioned in Germany, Villa Grisebach auction house said. The auctioneers, in Berlin, had estimated that 'Self-portrait in yellow-pink', painted in 1943, would attract bids of between 20 million and 30 million euros.

Beckmann, widely viewed as a major modern artist of the last century, painted it while in exile in Amsterdam. After the Nazis branded his paintings "degenerate art", Beckmann and his wife, Mathilde, known as "Quappi", fled Germany in 1937. Waiting in Amsterdam for years for a visa to the United States, Beckmann worked under adverse circumstances.

In the portrait, Beckmann departed from his usual dark colours and painted himself wearing a yellow fabric. His distant gaze, meditation-like pose and almost bald head are reminiscent of a Buddhist monk, said the auction house. The auction house has said the artwork's provenance is impeccable, as the artist gave it to his wife who loved it so much she kept it until she died in 1986.

Eventually a private collection in Switzerland purchased the painting before entrusting it to Villa Grisebach. A spokesperson for Villa Grisebach said the successful bid was 20 million euros and the remainder of the price covered fees. It was not immediately clear who the buyer was.

Auctioneers hope the large sale will boost Germany's art market, which trails New York, London and Paris. In 2018, Villa Grisebach obtained the highest auction price to date for a painting in Germany when it sold Max Beckmann's 'The Egyptian' for 5.5 million euros.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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