Painter Josef Capek's "Foot Bath" sets new Czech auction record

'Foot Bath' by Josef Capek

2006 has been an unusually successful year for Czech art auction houses. With the number of collectors growing and ever more valuable pieces on sale, turnover is soaring. This weekend, another record was broken. A Cubist painting by the renowned twentieth century artist Josef Capek was auctioned off for 9.3 million Czech crowns, which is over 430,000 US dollars. Dita Asiedu reports:

When the Galerie Art Praha auction house sold Circus Simonette, a painting by Jindrich Styrsky, for a record 9.46 million crowns, it did not expect to break another record just six months later. With commission, Josef Capek's "Koupel Nohou", which translates into "Foot Bath", brought in close to eleven million crowns. Czech auction houses had never before passed the ten million crown mark with the sale of a painting. Galerie Art Praha's Petra Prochazkova:

"This painting is one of his most famous and is from the cubist period. It's really good work. The painting belonged to a famous collection of prof. Jaroslav Borovicka and it was painted in 1921."

But the piece was also appealing because it was exhibited several times and fully reproduced in Capek's monograph but never before on sale. Though the identity of the painting's new owners has not been disclosed, it has been revealed that Capek's Foot Bath will not leave the Czech Republic. Petra Prochazkova:

"It's a couple who are very rich and started collecting about a year or two ago. In the last auction in April, they wanted the Jindrich Styrsky painting but didn't bid high enough. So now, they really wanted this one."

There are several dozen serious art collectors in the Czech Republic. While many of them are investors, auction houses say the number of bidders who can afford to collect art simply out of interest appears to be on the rise.