Record sale for one major work by Magritte


The buyer had to pay the record sum of 61 million euros to become the lucky owner of L'empire des lumières (The Empire of Light), a work by René Magritte put up for sale by Sotheby's and estimated at 53 million euros.

This oil on canvas is part of a series of works painted by the artist between 1953 and 1954. The lower part of the work represents a Brussels villa at night, lit by a street lamp, while in the upper part a light blue daytime sky dotted with clouds produces the surprising effect of the condensation of time.

L’empire des lumières is one of the most famous works by the Belgian surrealist, along with La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) [The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe)] and Fils de l'Homme (The Son of Man), which depicts a man in front of the sea with a green apple obscuring his face. It is still considered one of the most significant paintings of 20th-century art. A copy of the series can be seen in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, and of course the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, in Magritte's home of Brussels.