He Bought the Painting for $180K. It Just Sold for $92M

Seattle Art Museum won't get Edward Hopper's 'Chop Suey' after all
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2018 10:05 AM CST
Edward Hopper's "Chop Suey."   (Christie's)

(Newser) – When the gavel came down, an anonymous bidder was out $92 million and the art world was up in confidence. The scene unfolded Tuesday at Christie's in New York as work from the estate of late Seattle-area luxury-travel executive Barney Ebsworth was sold, per the Wall Street Journal. In one of 13 records set for artists, Edward Hopper's 1929 Chop Suey, showing the artist's wife in a Chinese restaurant, sold for $92 million, or more than double the previous $40.5 million record for a Hopper painting. Well above the $180,000 Ebsworth paid for it in 1973, per the BBC, the final price also cemented the painting as the most expensive work of prewar American art ever sold, though Ebsworth had previously promised Chop Suey to the Seattle Art Museum, reports the Seattle Times.

Willem de Kooning's 1954-55 Woman as Landscape sold for $69 million in another record for the artist, while Jackson Pollock's 1950 Composition With Red Strokes sold to a Swiss dealer for $55.4 million. It was a successful auction overall—bringing in $317.8 million, more than $50 million above Christie's estimate—despite recent rocky sales. Per the Journal, Vincent Van Gogh's Garden Corner With Butterflies, expected to fetch $40 million, went unsold at Christie's on Sunday, while Sotheby's failed to sell Marsden Hartley's Pre-War Pageant, valued at $30 million, on Monday. Ebsworth's collection was an anomaly of sorts, however, with one collector noting it was mostly kept locked away during his lifetime. More collection items are to be sold Wednesday. (Marie Antoinette's jewels are up for grabs, too.)

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