BERLIN – A self-portrait painted during World War II by German expressionist artist Max Beckmann sold Thursday in Berlin for 20 million euros ($20.7 million), a price that appears to be a record for an art auction in Germany.
The buyer of Beckmann's “Self-Portrait Yellow-Pink” at the Grisebach auction house in the German capital wasn't identified. Bidding started at 13 million euros (about $13.7 million). Factoring in additional costs, the buyer will have to pay out 23.2 million euros (about $24.4 million).
Beckmann was born in Leipzig in 1884. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, he was among the artists whose work was classified as “degenerate art,” and hundreds of his works were seized from German museums.
He emigrated to Amsterdam, where in 1943 he painted the somber self-portrait that was auctioned off on Thursday. Beckmann gave the painting to his wife, Mathilde Kaulbach, who kept it until her death in 1986.
Beckmann moved to the United States in 1947 and died in New York in 1950.
According to German media, the 9.5 million-euro sale last year of a 15th-century bronze sculpture of a Buddhist deity from China had held the art auction record in Germany. That beat the 4.7 million euros for which another Beckmann painting, “The Egyptian,” was sold at Grisebach in 2018.