This time, it is not the authenticity of the work which has been controversial. Sotheby’s New York auctioned this Wednesday, the canvases of the master. A drawing of the flemish Rubens, from the royal collection of the netherlands- as distinct from the national heritage-flew to $ 8.2 million. The sale has been very badly perceived in the netherlands, in the cultural sphere considering that princess Cristina, the owner of the Rubens would have had to propose, in the first place, to national museums to redeem it.

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Sjarel Ex, director of the musée des Beaux-Arts Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam is indignant: according to him, the drawing of Rubens is an integral part of the cultural heritage of Dutch, reports the daily Het Parool . The Association Rembrandt Fund and the Mondriaan were associated with the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen to try to buy the drawing in New York. Thanks to the national Fund of the purchases made by the ministry of Education, Culture and Science, they have been able to gather about a million and a half euros. Admittedly flirtatious, the sum was far from the account.

This government-controlled fund had not been used since 2015, on the occasion of the sale of a masterpiece by Rembrandt. That is to say, the importance of the design of Rubens in the eyes of the Dutch. The work was acquired in 1838 by prince William of Orange, future king of the netherlands William II and die-hard collector.

The anger of the ruling social-liberal

The decision of the royal family has also made a stir in the political world. Of deputies of the ruling social-liberal D66, member of the government coalition, expressed reservations about the sale, before the minister of Culture, following the same political training, do not cut short the debate. Flying to the rescue of the princess, Mark Rutte, the Prime minister, said that it was a “private matter”. The side of the house for sale, Greg Rubenstein, head of old master drawings at Sotheby’s, insisted that “the drawing belongs to a particular”.

so that this situation does not happen again, Sjarel Ex, director Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, wishes that the House of representatives do pass a law to prevent art collectors, private to sell their paintings of the masters as easily.

A new record

With $ 8 million, the work, of an outstanding invoice, has far exceeded the initial estimate, ranging between 2.5 and 3.5 million dollars. And has supplanted the previous record for a drawing by Rubens, which was established in 2014 to $ 5.5 million. Its price can be explained by its exceptional size (49 cm high by 31 cm wide) and the fact that it has been used to study the triptych of The Erection of the cross , painted around 1610.

The buyer of the drawing is not known. The daily Het Parool reveals, that behind the scenes, you slip the name of Leon Black, a billionaire american, who made a fortune at the head of an investment fund. His collection includes drawings of Van Gogh and Raphael, watercolors by Turner and paintings by Picasso. It is probably the mysterious purchaser of the Cry of Munch , awarded $ 120 million in 2012.

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The master of the flemish baroque reigns as the master on the sales: in 2002, the Massacre of the Innocents Rubens had soared to nearly… 80 million euros.