A painting by French artist Paul Gauguin broke the record for most expensive work of art ever sold at the weekend. As a Swiss gallery prepares to wave it off to a new home, David Pollard asks if the art market can sustain the current level of investor interest?
Visitors to a Swiss art gallery say their fond farewells. To a long-time resident - now global star. Gauguin's masterpiece When Will You Marry is moving on to shows in Madrid and Washington. Then on to a new owner for an estimated 300 million dollars. Its fans say it'll be a sore loss. SOUNDBITE (English) SWISS VISITOR, MARTIN BROWNE, SAYING: "It is a wonderful painting. It's very poignant.'' Paul Gauguin was a one-time stockbroker who gave it all up to paint. And travel: most notably to Polynesia, no doubt lured by sun, sea and the other pleasures of island life. He might be staggered that something he created 120 years ago in, who knows, just a few hours, is now the most valuable art work in the world. Qatar is thought to be the buyer in a recent private sale. Even if not, there are queues of others willing to part with huge sums, says art investment expert Philip Hoffman of the Fine Art Fund Group. SOUNDBITE (English) PHILIP HOFFMAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE FINE ART FUND GROUP, SAYING: ''You'll see records being broken every week in the art market because there's a fascinated audience out there who want to own rare art. And it's not just about Mr Big in Brazil who wants to have his ill-gotten gains, it's not about that at all. It's about major collectors.'' Big money for big name art isn't new. Andy Warhol's Triple Elvis and Four Marlons stole the headlines when they helped Christies to an 850 million dollar art auction last November. Cezanne's The Card Players previously held the record for a single painting - it sold for a reported quarter of a billion dollars in 2011 - also to a buyer in Qatar. Hyped-up valuations, say cynics - or could they just be the start? SOUNDBITE (English) PHILIP HOFFMAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE FINE ART FUND GROUP, SAYING: ''There is a huge tsunami of money coming towards the art market ... The total market transactions are about 68 billion dollars per year - which is tiny compared to the capital and liquidity out there. And I see a wave of money coming towards the art market that we've never seen before - and I think that's going to grow for the next five or ten years.'' So if you're a low-key investor with, say, a modest million or two to spend, how do you get in to the market? With care, says Hoffman. SOUNDBITE (English) PHILIP HOFFMAN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE FINE ART FUND GROUP, SAYING: ''You've got to be super-well advised. As an amateur, don't touch it. Go in with some experts.'' At the other end of the market, look out for the next record to smash. It would have to be one of the biggest names of all, says Hoffman - something like the Mona Lisa. But if it went on sale today, he says, it could make headlines as the art world's first billion-dollar babe.