The world’s largest canvas painting has sold at a Dubai auction for $62 million, putting it among the most expensive artworks ever to go under the auction. Measuring over 17,000 square feet, The Journey of Humanity is roughly equivalent in size to four NBA-regulation basketball courts. The work was created by British painter Sacha Jafri in order to raise money for children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Jafri cut out the work in 70 parts and had initially intended to sell the panels separately in the hope of making a combined $30 million. But at the charity auction on Monday, Dubai-based businessman Andre Abdoune offered more than double that to buy them all. This sale makes Jafri’s name among the world’s most expensive living artists and is not far behind a $69 million Beeple NFT piece that sold at Christie’s earlier this month.
As part of Jafri’s Humanity Inspired initiative, proceeds from the auction will be donated to UNICEF, UNESCO, The Global Gift Foundation and Dubai Cares for programs related to children’s education, health care, sanitation and digital connectivity. In a press release issued by Dubai Cares, Jafri described the sale as “a moment for humanity.”
“At the beginning of my ‘Humanity Inspired’ initiative, I had the vision to reconnect our broken planet through the hearts, minds and souls of the children of the world. I feel in my heart that we have come one step closer to achieving this tonight, thanks to Andre,” Jafri said in a statement.
Jafri, who has not previously had a major presence at auction, painted The Journey of Humanity over the course of several months last year at the Atlantis. The resulting canvas includes more than 300 layers of paint. He has previously sold his art to benefit charitable organizations, with actress Eva Longoria, musician Paul McCartney, and former U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly among his buyers.