Qatar Buys Cézanne Painting for Record $250M It's the most ever paid for an artwork By Matt Cantor, Newser User Posted Feb 3, 2012 1:52 PM CST 6 comments Comments A woman takes a cell phone photograph of 'The Card Players' 1892-96 by Paul C?zanne on February 7, 2011 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Getty Images) (Newser) – Qatar's royal family has dropped $250 million on The Card Players, part of a series of classic paintings by Paul Cézanne—more than doubling the previous record sum for an artwork purchase. The sale actually occurred last year in secret, adding a key work to Qatar's collection. "You take any art-history course, and a Card Players is likely in it," says an expert. "It’s a major, major image." But the move isn't just about great art: It's part of the country's attempt to develop into an intellectual center, Vanity Fair reports. The painting was long in the private hands of a Greek shipping magnate. He considered deals for it just before his death, including offers of more than $220 million from major art dealers. Qatar, flush with oil cash, pounced with its $250 million bid, dwarfing the previous record of $106 million for a Picasso portrait last year. And with Christie's chairman now directing Qatar's Museums Authority, we can expect a lot more great art headed that way. Click through for a closer look at The Card Players.