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The 3ft 2in by 2ft 6in (96 x 77cm) canvas, which depicted a thick-set rower, was signed and dated 1921 and had been purchased directly from Permeke by the private vendor’s grandfather. The strong provenance and market freshness were always in the picture’s favour and condition-wise it was good having had only the edges of the canvas relined and needing just a surface clean.

In today’s uncertain market low and ‘inviting’ estimates are one key to
success and Schelde Roeier was pitched accordingly at €20,000-30,000.

Miety Heiden felt it could bring around €150,000 and indeed the
underbidder, a Belgian private collector, originally intended to drop out at €160,000. But when his competitor, the successful European private buyer, continued to bid, the Belgian collector upped the ante, eventually dropping out just shy of the winning €265,000 (£199,250) – a new world auction record for the artist. The previous high was £110,000 taken for the oil on
canvas Toits Rouge in Christie’s King Street rooms at the height of the art market boom in October 1989. Exchange rate: £1= €1.33