A Vincent van Gogh painting sold for $13.75 million, the fourth highest price paid at an auction, but the sale disappointed a standing-room-only crowd after a string of record prices for the artist's paintings.
"Portrait of Adeline Ravoux," which van Gogh finished shortly before his suicide, sold at Christie's auction house Wednesday night to an anonymous buyer who bid by telephone.Christie's had estimated van Gogh's 1890 portrait of his innkeeper's 13-year-old daughter would bring $15 million, and the reaction of the audience was subdued in contrast to the applause that usually greets a record price.
However, auctioneer Christopher Burge insisted afterward that Christie's was not disappointed. "It's a wonderful price for a beautiful picture," he said.
Daniel Varenne, an art dealer from Geneva, Switzerland, said he was "a little surprised" that the painting fetched only $13.75 million. But he added the portrait was "not an easy one to live with" and that may have affected the price.
"It's of a girl who's attractive but not that attractive. And there's the possibility that the blue background is not that appealing to a lot of people," he said.
In the painting, Adeline, dressed in blue, sits in profile on a chair. Her blond hair is tied with a blue ribbon, her gaze is serene, her posture correct and her hands are folded demurely in front of her. The background is a deep, midnight blue.
The painting is the latest in a string of paintings by van Gogh, who had trouble selling his art during his lifetime, to fetch a record price.
"Irises" last year brought $53.9 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a painting. The second and third highest prices bid at an auction were also for van Gogh paintings.
The portrait was one of 70 lots offered for sale at an auction of impressionist and modern art that fetched $63,173,000. Eleven works of art did not find buyers despite a packed house.
The second highest bid Wednesday was $6.6 million paid by an anonymous private collector for Pierre Renoir's "L'Ombrelle," a painting of a woman in a garden holding a parasol and bouquet of violets.
Mary Cassatt's, "The Conversation," a pastel on paper of two wom-en talking to each other, sold for $4.51 million, a record for the artist. Burge called it "a beautiful picture" and "an extreme leap forward by the artist." It was bought by an anonymous private collector.