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Kupka's early work "Complexe" for 4,646,000 British pounds

Published:  2/28/2023

František Kupka's painting Complexe | Photo: Sotheby's

Kupka's early abstract work Complexe from 1912 fetched a whopping £4,646,000 at London's Sotheby's on Wednesday evening. It was thus ranked among the 5 most expensive paintings by Czech artists in the world. The painting is a unique collector's item, not only because of its dating and exhibition history, but above all because of its provenance. The work comes from the collection of the famous actor and iconic representative of the fictional British agent 007, Sir Sean Connery.


It was the only painting from the Sean Connery collection to be offered at Sothebyʼs modern and post-war art auction on Wednesday evening. The pre-auction estimate was set by the renowned gallery at 2.2 million to 2.8 million pounds (without the auction commission), which corresponded to approximately 75 to 96 million crowns if the auction commission and fees are included. Although this is the highest pre-auction estimate for a Kupka work to date, it is less than half of the artist's two-year-old auction record, achieved by the painting Spray II in 2021, also at Sotheby`s in London (6.4 million British pounds excluding commission and fees – 230.6 million Czech crowns including added commission and fees) and at the same time approximately half of the final price achieved.


With a price of CZK 122,375,640 without auction markup (GBP 4,646,000 per hammer), Kupko's painting Complexe was thus ranked among the world's 5 most expensive paintings by Czech artists. Next in line would be KODL Gallery's record-selling painting Old Prague motif by Bohumil Kubišta, which last year surpassed the 100 million crown mark (exactly 123 million crowns with the auction markup) and thus became the most expensive painting by a Czech artist sold in the Czech Republic to date.


The most successful Czech auction gallery, which is based on more than a century of tradition of the Kodl family, then occupied the first two places among the most successful sales of paintings by František Kupka in the Czech Republic. These are the parts Divertimento II (sold at the KODL Gallery in 2020 for 90.2 million crowns with an auction markup) and Transverse Areas II (sold at the KODL Gallery in 2019 for 78 million crowns with an auction markup with an auction markup), which is now can be seen in person as part of the exhibition "All the imagination!" in the Lipsiusbau Art Hall in Dresden, which maps the work of Czech artists of the twentieth century. The KODL gallery has long earned a good name for Czech art abroad. That is why she decided to arrange the loan of Kupka's work for this international exhibition of Czech art in Dresden. Recently, she also lent the paintings of our most successful and internationally recognized painter Toyen to an exhibition that went straight from Prague to Hamburg and Paris.


Both František Kupka, Bohumil Kubišta, Toyen and Josef Šíma are among the most progressive painters of Czech modernism, and the ever-increasing interest in their works among foreign collectors is a positive sign not only for Czech collectors, but also for the entire Czech society. The record sale of the Complexe picture is proof of that.



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