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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Wartime self-portrait by German expressionist Max Beckmann sells for £17m

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A self-portrait painted during the Second World War by German expressionist artist Max Beckmann has sold in Berlin for 20 million euros (£17 million), which appears to be a record for an art auction in Germany.

The buyer of Beckmann’s Self-Portrait Yellow-Pink at the Grisebach auction house in the German capital was not identified. Factoring in additional costs, the buyer will have to pay out 23.2 million euros (about £19.9 million).

Beckmann was born in Leipzig in 1884. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, he was among the artists whose work was classified as “degenerate art”, and hundreds of his works were seized from German museums.

He emigrated to Amsterdam, where in 1943 he painted the sombre self-portrait that was auctioned on Thursday.

Beckmann gave the painting to his wife, Mathilde Kaulbach, who kept it until her death in 1986.

He moved to the US in 1947 and died in New York in 1950.

According to German media, the 9.5 million euro sale last year of a 15th-century bronze sculpture of a Buddhist deity from China had held the art auction record in Germany.

That beat the 4.7 million euros paid for another Beckmann painting, The Egyptian, at Grisebach in 2018.

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