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OIL-RICH Qatar has bought Paul Cezanne's painting The Card Players for more than $250 million, by far the highest price yet paid for a work of art.
Previously, a Jackson Pollock - No. 5, 1948 - held the record, sold for $140 million in pre-recessionary 2006.
Vanity Fair magazine points out that only four other versions of Card Players exist - Cezanne painted them as a series in the 1890s. They are all housed in world-class museums, including the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
"The purchase is just the latest bid in Qatar's effort to become an international intellectual hub," the magazine wrote, adding that it "upends the modern art market."
According to the Gulf Times, Qatar has the third highest density of millionaires in the world after Singapore and Switzerland.
The sale, which took place last year, was confirmed to the magazine by multiple sources only last week.
Qatar's royal family declined to comment and all other players involved in the sale signed confidentiality agreements.
The Card Players bought by Qatar is one of three that shows two men at a table playing cards.
"$250 million is a fortune," Victor Wiener, a fine-art appraiser told Vanity Fair. ''But you take any art-history course and a Card Players is likely in it. It's a major, major image."
Cezanne inspired Cubism and helped pioneer abstract art, and Picasso called him "the father of us all." (Credit: GNE)
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