Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl’ Makes a Million (nearly) at Bonhams

Tretchikoff's Chinese Girl Bonhams‘Chinese Girl’, the most iconic work of Vladimir Tretchikoff – the Russian émigré who settled in South Africa – was sold today at Bonhams South African art sale in London. Following worldwide interest in the sale the painting which had been estimated to sell for £300,000 to £500,000, made £982,050 (R13.8m). The whole sale of some 150 pictures made £4.5m.

The buyer of ‘Chinese Girl’ is Laurence Graff, British businessman and jeweler and Chairman of Graff Diamonds International, who owns the Delaire Graff Estate near Stellenbosch, where this picture will go on public display with the rest of his art collection. www.delaire.co.za

Said to be the most widely reproduced and recognizable picture in the world, from the 1950s prints of this famous work sold widely in South Africa, Britain, Europe and America.

Significantly Tretchikoff out-performed the two longtime market leaders in South African art at auction – Irma Stern and Jacob Hendrik Pierneef. ‘Landscape Stellenbosch’ by Pierneef made £713,250 and ‘Congolese Beauty’ by Irma Stern was sold for £541,250.
Tretchikoff’s value has risen exponentially in the art market, due to both the re- evaluation of his legacy in exhibitions such as Tretchikoff: The People’s Painter, at IZIKO South African National Gallery (2011), and his appearance on the world stage at auction at Bonhams. A new world record was recently achieved at Bonhams with the semi-nude portrait painting, ‘Portrait of Lenka (Red Jacket)’, featuring Tretchikoff’s lover and muse, which sold for £337,250 (R4.7million). Just over 100 Tretchikoff works have appeared at auction, a twenty-year trajectory which charts a remarkable resurgence in the artist’s popularity.

Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams, comments: “This was an exceptional price for a work which really does merit the word ‘iconic’. And it’s very happy news to hear that it is going home.”

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