19 November 1998
NEW YORK -- A rarely seen Van Gogh painting, Self-portrait (Without Beard), sold at auction at more than triple the expected price.
The work, which was in a private collection, is believed to be Van Gogh's final self-portrait. It was painted in 1889 during his stay in the mental asylum in Saint-Rémy, France. Van Gogh painted the work for his mother as a gift for her 70th birthday as a means of reassuring her that he was happy and in good health.
Bidding for the work began at $14 million U.S. and three separate bidders drove the price steadily higher. The final amount, telephoned in by an anonymous bidder, was set at $71,502,500.
The painting marks the second highest price ever paid for a work by Vincent van Gogh--the first being The Portrait of Dr. Gachet which sold for $82.5 million U.S. in 1990.