arts

Edward Hopper painting 'Chop Suey' sells for almost $92 million

Published 14th November 2018
Edward Hopper's Chop Suey sold for $91,875,000 at Christie's in New York.
Credit: Edward Hopper/Christies
Edward Hopper painting 'Chop Suey' sells for almost $92 million
Written by Lianne Kolirin, CNN
A painting by American artist Edward Hopper has sold for almost $92 million, becoming the most expensive of the artist's work to be acquired at auction.
"Chop Suey" raised $91,875,000 at Christie's in New York as part of a larger sale of American modernist art titled An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection Evening Sale. The event brought in $317.8 million in total.
In his early years, Hopper -- who died in 1967 -- studied painting at the New York School of Art under the guidance of artist Robert Henri. Throughout his lifetime, Hopper followed Henri's advice: to paint the city life he knew best. Whether while studying in Paris or when working as an illustrator in New York, Hopper would find inspiration while people-watching in cafés.
Why is art so expensive?
"Chop Suey," which he painted in 1929, is likely to have been inspired by his visits to restaurants both in New York and on his travels, according to Christie's. The 32- x 38-inch oil painting features two women seated at an empty table in a Chinese restaurant, the likes of which were popular in the American cities of the 1920s.
The painting was listed alongside the works of other leading American artists, among them Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock. Online bidders registered from 23 countries, competing for art that the collector had displayed at his home on the shores of Lake Seattle.
This was the greatest privately owned collection of American modernist art ever to come to market, according to Christie's.
How do art auctions really work?
De Kooning's "Woman as Landscape" (1954-55) passed the previous record for the artist before selling for $68,937,500, while Pollock's "Composition with Red Strokes" (1950) produced the third-highest price of the sale when it was acquired for $55,437,500.
Ebsworth, who founded the Royal Cruise Line, began collecting art in 1972. Prior to his death earlier this year, he said in an interview quoted on the Christie's website: "In real estate three things matter: location, location, location. For me, collecting art was about quality, quality, quality. I would rather have a smaller collection of the finest pictures than dozens of so-so ones."