Picasso portrait of mistress sells for $41 million

13 Nov

Picasso’s Nature morte aux tulipes.(Photo Reuters)

The auction featured nine works by Picasso led by “Nature more aux tulipes.” Nearly one-third of the 67 lots on offer went unsold and the auction missed its $170 million low pre-sale estimate. The two Picasso portraits of his iconic muse Marie-Therese Walter, “Nature more” and “Femme à la Fenetre,” managed their pre-sale estimates, the latter fetching $17.2 million including commission.

The sale demonstrated “that in this market there continues to be a search for quality,” said Simon Shaw, Sotheby’s head of Impressionist and modern art in New York. Shaw added there was “active participation from today’s truly global art market,” but in a nod to the spotty results, conceded “there remains some scrutiny over estimates.”

David Norman, Sotheby’s co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art, also cited “increasing participation from South American, Asian and Russian bidders” that marked the sale. While several works sold within their estimated range (estimates do not include commission of about 12 per cent) and a few went significantly higher, there were noteworthy casualties including another Picasso, “Plant de tomate,” estimated at $10 million to $15 million which could not draw a $9 million bid.

Strong prices were attained by Picasso’s “Le Viol,” a work on paper from the collection of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos which soared to $13.5 million against an estimate of only $5 million, and Monet’s “Champ de ble,” being sold by the Cleveland Museum of art, which fetched $12.1 million or nearly double the estimate. Another Picasso, “Femme à la robe verge,” estimated at $6 million to $8 million, also went unsold.

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