Van Gogh painting fetches pounds 8.8m in two-minute sale

A farming scene by Vincent van Gogh was sold in London last night for pounds 8.8m - in less than two minutes. Bidding at Sotheby's sales rooms started at pounds 6.5m and rose quickly to pounds 7m before reaching the final figure.The anonymous bidder bought the painting, Harvest in Provence, by telephone. Sotheby's refused to give any details although the buyer is thought to be American. The sale set a new record for a painting by the artist on paper rather than on canvas. The previous record was pounds 4.2m paid in New York for Van Gogh's Garden of Flowers.

Harvest in Provence was said to be the most important work on paper by Van Gogh which was still in private hands. It was bought by London collector, Mrs J B A Kessler, in 1930 and was sold yesterday by a family trust. It had not been seen in public since 1948, and the sales rooms were packed for its appearance.

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