Van Gogh watercolour sells for record $49m

A Vincent van Gogh landscape seized by the Nazis during the Second World War occupation of France has sold at auction in New York for $US35.9 million ($A49.3 million), a record for a watercolour by the Dutch impressionist.

The 1888 work, Mueles de ble, was purchased for well above its pre-sale estimate of $US20-30 million, auction house Christie’s said.

The painting was last exhibited in 1905.

Mueles de ble depicts a haystack in Arles, France, where Van Gogh lived for more than a year in the 1880s.

Unlike his best-known works, which were painted with oils, the Mueles de ble was executed in watercolour, gouache, pen and ink on paper.

The work was initially owned after the artist’s death at 37 by his brother, Theo van Gogh.

After passing through several pairs of hands, it was seized by Nazi forces during their occupation of France in the 1940s.

Following the war, the painting’s whereabouts were unclear until the 1970s.

It was in private ownership until Christie’s purchased the work through a settlement with the collector and heirs of the original owners.

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