František Kupka painting owned by Sean Connery sells for over £4m at Sotheby’s

The abstract work was first exhibited in Paris in 1912 as part of a groundbreaking show of modern art. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 02.03.2023 09:52:00 (updated on 02.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A Czech painting formerly owned by James Bond actor Sean Connery sold for twice the estimated price at an auction in London.

Czech artist František Kupka's painting “Complexe” sold for £4,646,000 pounds (almost CZK 123 million) at an auction of modern and contemporary art at Sotheby’s in London yesterday. The estimated selling price was £2.2 million to £2.8 million.

Connery, who died in 2020 a 90 years of age, acquired the painting in 2016 at an undisclosed price from a private collector. Part of the money from the sale will benefit the Connery Foundation, which supports institutions and organizations in Scotland and the Bahamas.

Kupka getting discovered by collectors

Kupka is one of the best-selling Czech artists. In 2021, his painting “Le Jaillissement II” sold for a record £7,551,600. “Complexe” was first shown at a famous modernism exhibition at Salon de la Section d’Or in Paris in 1912.

Thomas Boyd-Bowman, head of impressionist and modern art evening sales at Sotheby’s London, called Kupka a key artist in developing abstract art, adding that his importance is finally being recognized by collectors.

“This groundbreaking early work is a superb example of the artist’s relentless exploration of motion, spirituality, and color through abstraction,” Boyd-Bowman said before the auction.

Influenced by spiritualism

Kupka, born in 1871 in Opočno, East Bohemia, tried to avoid having his work categorized as part of any particular movement. During his studies in Paris, he made his living designing posters, giving religious courses, and he also performing as a spiritism medium. Around 1903, his international reputation started with a series of satiric drawings.

In 1914, Kupka joined the Foreign Legion and fought in World War I, getting injured at the Battle of the Aisne. For his gallantry, Kupka was promoted to captain. When he returned to Paris, he helped organize the Czechoslovak Legions in France and established a Czech art colony there.

After the war, he was appointed professor of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, where he gave lectures in 1920. He returned to Paris after that and continued to teach Czechoslovak students there. Kupka died on June 24, 1957, at Puteaux in the outskirts of Paris.

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