REPORTS have emerged that the Qatari Royal family has paid a record amount for any work of art ever sold.

Rumours began to circulate last April that one of five versions of Paul Cézanne's The Card Players had changed hands in a private treaty sale worth over $250m. Last week, the New York edition of Vanity Fair named the buyers as members of the ruling family of the oil-rich Arab state working through dealers GPS (Giraud, Pissarro and Segalot).

If confirmed, the price would easily outstrip the previous all-time high - the $140m paid in a private deal brokered by Sotheby's in 2006 for Jackson Pollock's 1948 drip painting No 5.

The sale was thought to have been made shortly after the death of its late owner, the Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos.

The auction record for a Cézanne is the $55m seen for the still life Rideau, Cruchon et Compotier from c.1893-4, sold at Sotheby's New York in May 1999.