Chinese Girl fetches nearly £1m in auction

Chinese Girl

Chinese Girl, a painting by Vladimir Tretchikoff, sold for almost £1 million at auction yesterday - twice the price the auction house had put on the painting, and a record for the artist.

So what happened?

The painting

The painting was of a girl who worked in a laundrette near Tretchikoff's home in Cape Town.

It is instantly recognisable, largely because according to Bonhams auction house it is the most reproduced picture in the world. In the UK it gained particular currency in the 1950s when Woolworths sold a popular reproduction, and it adorned walls all over the country.

In recent years, it has again gained popularity with the fashion for retro prints.

However, it has never exactly attracted kind words from critics. Among the kindest is the title 'The Mona Lisa of Kitsch'.

The sale

It was given an estimate of £300,000-£500,000, but sold by Bonhams for £982,050 to British jeweller and art collector Laurence Graff (said to be worth £2.8 billion). He will keep it at his estate in South Africa.

Bonhams said the unusually high price is partly due to the art community reassessing the artist and his legacy - and that a high profile retrospective of his work in 2011 in South Africa was instrumental in this.

They said that the last 20 years has seen 100 of his works appear at auction, charting a 'remarkable resurgence in the artist's popularity.' Before this painting sold, the record for his work was £337,250, for the semi-nude 'Portrait of Lenka (Red Jacket)', featuring Tretchikoff's lover and muse.

It is thought that interest was also generated by the auction-house's decision to display the painting around the world in recent months. Eventually there were around 120 interested parties at the time of the sale.

Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams, said in a statement: "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."

Forbes rich list: the world's top ten billionaires
See Gallery
Chinese Girl fetches nearly £1m in auction

The Mexican self-made telecoms mogul tops the rich list with a wealth that, as Forbes reports, if it were a country would be the eighth richest in Latin America.

Dubbed the world's most generous person, Bill Gates made his fortune as the brains behind Microsoft and has reportedly already donated $28 billion of his wealth to charity so far.

Spanish billionaire Ortega is the man behind the clothes brand Zara and is this year's biggest rich list gainer, making $19.5 billion last year and moving him into third position.

Buffett made his billions as CEO, primary shareholder and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, A diversified company with interest in GEICO, life insurance, annuity sales and sales of jewellery. He recently signed a lucrative deal to acquire Heinz Ketchup.

Ellison founded Oracle Corporation, a leading enterprise software company. He's America's third richest man and Forbes has reported that he recently bought 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai from David Murdock for a reported sum of $500 million.

Koch built his fortune on chemicals and refining and shares the sixth position on the rich list with his billionaire brother, David Koch.

Tied sixth in the rich list with his elder brother Charles, David runs the chemical equipment side of Koch Industries from his New York home.

This self-made billionaire is Asia's richest man and currently supplies a quarter of British people with gas after acquiring British gas supplier Wales & West Utilities for $1 billion last October.

The only woman in the top ten, Bettencourt's father founded L'Oreal and now she and her family own 30% of the French cosmetics super brand.

Branded by Forbes as the 'World's most influential tastemaker' Arnault owns the luxury goods powerhouse LVHM, Moet Hennessy - Luis Vuitton.

Read Full Story