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How much is Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting worth? Did tomato soup attack change that?

“What is worth more? Art or life?”Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice?” the soup-throwing protesters shouted in London’s National Gallery.

How much is Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting worth? Did tomato soup attack change that?

On Friday, another headline making climate change protest took place involving a famous item at a well known location. This time the item was the ‘Sunflowers’ painting by Vincent Van Gogh, and the location London’s National Gallery. Those behind it were members of the Just Stop Oil campaign group.

The latest incident followed on the back of other capital protests in recent weeks and saw two women stroll into room where the painting was being displayed and nonchalantly threw two tins of Heinz Tomato soup over it. They then squirted some glue onto the palms of their hands to stick themselves to the wall beside the painting.

“What is worth more? Art or life?” they shouted. “Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice?”

A statement from the National Gallery read:

At just after 11am this morning, two people entered Room 43 of the National Gallery.

The pair appeared to glue themselves to the wall adjacent to Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ (1888). They also threw a red substance - what appears to be tomato soup - over the painting. The room was cleared of visitors and police were called. Officers are now on the scene.

There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed. Two people have been arrested.

How much is Sunflowers worth?

The value of paintings like those of Van Gogh clearly change over time and can be driven by various elements. In 1987 Sunflowers -- well, one of the seven still lifes of the flower he did -- sold for £24m at Christie’s in London (which was around $40m at the time but at the time of writing is about $27m!)

Although the famous 1888 painting has been estimated to have a value of £72.5m ($81,552m), experts believe that if it was to come back up for auction again it would likely fetch several hundred million dollars. Whether or not it’s current owner, Sompo insurance company (formerly Yasuda), will make that a reality soon is another matter.

Van Gogh
Full screen
Van Gogh

Did the Sunflowers soup attack change its value?

No. Or it certainly didn’t harm it. With the public able to get up close and personal with the painting to admire every brushstroke, a glass screen protects the canvas. According to Just Stop Oil, they had taken this into account when planning their protest.

Check out the other Van Gogh painting worth a pretty penny.


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