Sacha Jafri (centre) worked solidly on the painting on his own for eight months
A painting created by British artist Sacha Jafri, which is also the world’s largest has been sold for £45m to raise funds for children’s charities.
Jafri spent eight months painting the 1,600 sq m (17,000 sq ft) artwork in a deserted hotel’s ballroom in Dubai.
He planned to sell it in 70 parts, but French cryptocurrency businessman Andre Abdoune has bought the whole work.
The price makes it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold at auction by a living artist.
Jafri said the full $62m (£45m) would go to Dubai Cares, Unicef, Unesco and the Global Gift Foundation to help disadvantaged children in countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
Jafri took inspiration from pictures sent by children from around the world
The 44-year-old artist from London originally hoped to raise $30m (£22m). He told BBC News he was “blown away” to have doubled that.
“I was really overwhelmed by what happened – to raise that amount of money from one painting in one night,” he said.
Jafri started by putting out an appeal for children to send him their pictures representing how they felt during the pandemic. He got responses from 140 countries, which he used for inspiration, he said.
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“I was in a deep meditative state. I looked through all the [children’s] work – I paint from the subconscious, and then whatever’s in there comes out. Nothing’s planned. There’s no sketches. There were no drawings.
“I was literally pouring paint, and then putting another layer on top and another layer, another layer, another layer, just feeling my way through it until something magical happened.”
In September, Guinness World Records recognised it as the largest ever art canvas.
Jafri worked on his own while the Atlantis hotel was closed to visitors, and needed an emergency operation on his spine during the process, as well as injuring his pelvis and feet.
“I was on my feet but bent right down so my brush can touch the floor,” he explained. “So that’s a pretty bad position to be in for 20 hours a day. I was in a trance, so I didn’t realise the damage I was doing to my body.”
The painting, titled The Journey of Humanity, was sold in Dubai on Monday.
Jafri said the money would be spent on healthcare and sanitation for “the poorest communities in the world” and to connect them to the internet so children can have access to educational platforms. “The biggest divide at the moment is those with the internet and those without,” he said.
The buyer “has a beautiful vision” for the work, the artist said. “His vision now is he wants to build a museum to house the painting.”
The pair will “set up a foundation together” that will “inspire the next generation to be inspired by art, to avoid the nonsense of the art world”, he added.