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Rare Gauguin from his time in Tahiti fetches 9.5 million euros at Paris auction

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A rare canvas by French artist Paul Gauguin from his time in Tahiti fetched 9.5 million euros ($10.5 million) in Paris on Tuesday, nearly twice its estimated value, the auction house said.

The bidding had drawn keen interest amid growing controversy over Gauguin’s relationships with young girls on the Polynesian island and his depictions of them.

The 1897 painting, “Te Bourao II” or “tree” in the local Tahitian language, had been expected to go for around five to seven million euros.

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The buyer is an “international collector”, the Artcurial auction house said, adding the artwork depicting an evocative Tahiti landscape would remain in France.

It is one of the few paintings from the post-impressionist’s Tahiti period still in private hands.

According to Artcurial, the last sale in France of a Gauguin from this period was 22 years ago.

Recent years have seen increasing attention on Gauguin’s attitudes to the young women who feature in the paintings of this period.

An exhibition of the painter currently at the National Gallery in London said “that it aims to consider Gauguin’s relationships and the impact of colonialism through the prisms of contemporary debate.”

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