By Erik Sherman
January 24, 2019

A major Vincent Van Gogh painting, likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars, will never again leave the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, according to the Associated Press.

Although the museum had previously lent Sunflowers, one of five versions of the painting, to other museums for display, a scan of the painting has shown that its condition makes it too fragile to travel. Other versions of the work are in museums in London, Philadelphia, Tokyo, and Munich.

“We’ve decided that any stresses that the picture could be subjected to were it to travel, were (it) to be lent, that those might be too risky,” Van Gogh Museum director Axel Reuger told AP.

The variations are among Van Gogh’s most iconic, recognized, and loved works. The artist painted them in 1887, possibly because many of the models in Arles, France, where Van Gogh was at the time, were unreliable and the flowers were handy, according to The Telegraph.

The value of the painting could only be speculated, as major Van Gogh works rarely come up for sale, but it is considered virtually priceless, as The Guardian has reported.

One of the series sold in 1987 for $39.9 million, according to the New York Times. That was nearly five times the opening bid at the Christie’s auction and was the equivalent of $90.2 million today, taking inflation into account.

But prices for art rise much faster than inflation. When Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold in 2017 to Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, it was for $450.3 million. There is no telling how much one of the Sunflowers would fetch today.

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