Pablo Picasso Les femmes d’Alger (Version O), oil on canvas painting, Painted on February 14, 1955. Estimate: in the region of US$140 million. Sold for $179,365,000 (including buyer’s premium). © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
NEW YORK– After so much expectation, Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, Version O made it to the auction floor at Christie’s Evening Sale at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Monday. There was great anxiety as the auction began. As expected, there was no disappointment as collectors went against one another, driving up the $140 million estimated auction price of this important painting.
On the phone and in the auction hall, the bidding was intense as weird signs and gestures became the expression for ” I want it”. Several clients chased the work from its starting bid of $100 million, trading at least 30 bids in increments of $1 million.
When the gavel finally came down 11 and ½ minutes after the auction started, the painting had been sold for $179,365,000 (including buyer’s premium), setting a new world auction record for the most valuable work of art sold at auction. The painting went to a client on the phone with Brett Gorvy, International Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s.
Estimated to achieve in the region of US$140 million, this large-scale, vividly-hued oil on canvas was a major attraction when it was put on display for 10 days as the centerpiece of a pre-sale exhibition in New York. It attracted more than 15,000 visitors to Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries. The piece was also on display at Christie’s locations in Hong Kong and London prior to sale.
This sale of Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, Version O marks the second time that Christie’s has sold this particular Picasso painting. The first time was in 1997 when the auction house offered from the celebrated Ganz collection and sold for US$31.9 million against an estimate of $10-12 million.
With the sale of this Picasso painting, Christie’s New York has broken its own record. The previous record for any work of art sold at auction was $142.4 million, set in 2013 for Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud. Christie’s also broke its own record for the most valuable work by Picasso ever sold at auction. The previous record was set in 2010 with the sale of the artist’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust from 1932 for $106.5 million.
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