Art dealer bought this for $26.8 million. Then the Louvre said no



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(news)
– The art world recently saw another bidding war, this time over Basket with wild strawberriesa sweet 18th century still life by Jean Chardin. While the artist’s previous record was only $8 million, this one went for $26.8 million, ARTnews reports. But before the New York art dealer who won the auction could pick up the painting, Louvre officials blocked the sale, at least temporarily, claiming the work is a “national treasure.” Under a French law aimed at keeping such works in the country, the state can now withhold the export license for up to 30 months, giving the Louvre time to try to raise money to cover the purchase.

Other countries have similar laws to protect works of cultural importance, and ARTnews gives two recent examples: Portrait of Omai, an 18th-century work by Joshua Reynolds valued at $65 million; British public institutions only have until July to raise money to buy the painting. And in Spain, billionaire banker Jaime Botin was sentenced in 2020 to 18 months in prison and a $58 million fine “for smuggling a Picasso painting from Spain on his yacht” after being denied an export license; the work in question had been declared a national treasure, Business Insider reports.

The art market is gaining momentum worldwide. A report from ArtMarket last month says that market performance in 2021 was unprecedented, putting the historic tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic firmly behind it. The Guardian reports that experts are pinning rising sales on three factors: crypto millionaires become buyers; growth in the Asian sector; and “the belief that art is a good investment in a time of economic uncertainty.” (Read more stories about the art market.)

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