Painting by Kandinsky set a record auction – almost 45 million dollars
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A painting by Russian modernist Wassily Kandinsky, once owned by victims of the Nazi Holocaust, was sold at Sotheby's at London 37, £2 million ($44.55 million) .
Sotheby's Modern & Contemporary on Wednesday, a painting titled “Murnau mit Kirche II” (“Murnau with the Church II”; 1910), became the most expensive sale of the night, as well as a new auction record for the artist.
#AuctionUpdate One of the most important works by Wassily Kandinsky ever to appear at auction, 'Murnau mit Kirche II' achieves £37.2m, a new auction record for the artist. pic.twitter.com/fb31u0ZsUq
— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) March 1, 2023
The previous world record for a work by Kandinsky was set in 2017 when his painting “Bild mit weissen Linien” was sold for £33 million ($39.7 million), the auction house said.
“Kandinsky's Murnau period defined abstract art for generations to come,” — Helena Newman, Sotheby’s European Chair and Head of Impressionism & Contemporary Art, said in a statement.
"The appearance of such an important picture — one of the last works of this period remaining in private hands — is an important point for the market and for collectors”, — she said.
Kandinsky was living with his lover Gabriele Münter and artist friends in Murnau, Bavaria, when he painted “Murnau with Kirche II”, inspired by the local scenery while cycling through Bavaria. Münter herself made an inscription on the stretcher of the picture.
The painting has a long history. It was sold at auction as a property from the collection of well-known Berlin collectors, husband and wife Joanna Margarethe and Siegbert Stern, after the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, finally returned the painting to the surviving heirs of Holocaust survivors last year. .
The Stern family photographs show Kandinsky's work hanging in the dining room of their family home, Villa Stern in Potsdam. But after the rise of the Nazis in 1933 and the death of her husband two years later, Johanna Margarethe fled to the Netherlands and was declared stateless.
According to family documents, the Kandinsky painting, among other works, was taken to the Netherlands and allegedly ended up in the hands of a dealer who looted Jewish property in the occupied country prior to the deportation and death of Johanna Margaret in Auschwitz in 1944, according to the Sotheby& #39;s. The painting was later sold to the Van Abbe Museum by another dealer in 1951.
Proceeds from the sale will be divided among 13 of Stern's surviving descendants, with some of the money going to fund further research to find their family's extensive art collection, it says. in a statement.
Another big sale that evening was Edvard Munch's Dans på stranden (Reinhardt-frisen)" or “Dance on the Beach (The Reinhardt Frieze)”, which was sold for 16.94 million pounds (20.3 million dollars).
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