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Van Gogh Fetches Second Highest Price Of $20.24 Million

June 30, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ Vincent Van Gogh’s ″The Bridge at Trinquetaille″ was sold to a European art collector for $20.24 million, the second highest price ever paid for a painting at a public auction.

Last March in London, Van Gogh’s ″Sunflowers″ became the most expensive auctioned picture when a Japanese insurance company paid $39.9 million for it.

Van Gogh, who committed suicide, lived a life of poverty, unable to sell his pictures and forced to exist on handouts from his brother, Theo.

″I am thrilled with the price it fetched ... It shows the market as a whole is very strong indeed,″ Charles Allsopp, chairman of Christie’s Auction House, said Monday night after ″The Bridge at Trinquetaille″ was sold.

The final bid was $18.4 million and the final price tag of $20.24 million includeed a 10 percent commission on the final bid charged to the buyer.

The picture, measuring slightly over 28 inches high by 36 inches wide, shows the iron bridge over the River Rhone between the southern French town of Arles and the suburb of Trinquetaille.

A European collector bought the ″The Bridge at Trinquetaille″ by placing a telephone bid to Christie’s auction of Impressionist and modern paintings and sculpture. The action house declined to identify the bidder.

The bidding for the picture opened at $8 million.

The painted was completed in 1888, after the Dutch-born van Gogh had gone to live in Arles. He later moved to Auvers near Paris in northern France where he was treated for insanity. He shot himself to death in 1890 at the age of 37.

″The Bridge at Trinquetaille″ was sent for sale by an American, Sonja Kramarsky of New York, a descendant of Siegfried Kramarsky of Amsterdam who bought it at a Paris sale in 1932 for $18,000.

The entire Kramarsky collection, including ″The Bridge at Trinquetaille″ was sent from Holland to the United States for safekeeping just before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. ″The Bridge at Trinquetaille″ had been on loan to New York’s Metropolitan Museum for the past three years.

The entire sale Monday night netted $47.04 million.

″The prices were amazing,″ said Christie’s spokesman Mark Wrey. ″If you turn the clock back six months before ‘Sunflowers,’ then the price paid for the Van Gogh bridge tonight was an epic.″

The previous second-highest priced picture at auction was a Paris street scene by Edouard Manet which sold in London for $11.088 million in December.

The London newspaper The Independent reported that Maria Reinshagen of Christie’s spoke in Swiss German when she took the bid for the Van Gogh over the telephone Monday. Another London paper, the Daily Telegraph, said the bid was placed from Zurich.

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