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. (Read more Qatar stories.)