Jone of Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces, the painting Woman with a Watch (Femme à la montre), was auctioned for 139.3 million dollars (about 3.2 billion crowns) at an auction in New York on Wednesday evening. Foreign news agencies reported this on Thursday, according to which the sum represents the highest amount achieved at this year’s art auctions worldwide and the second highest amount ever sold for a work by the Spanish painter, who died half a century ago.
The painting, painted in 1932, depicts one of the painter’s lovers, muses and models, the Frenchwoman Marie-Thérèse Walter. The starting price, according to Sotheby’s auction house, was $120 million.
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The painting belonged to wealthy New Yorker Emily Fisher Landau, who died this year at the age of 102. Her collection of works by Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol is being auctioned during two special evenings, Wednesday and Thursday, at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, AFP wrote.
The Picasso painting has until now hung in Fisher Landau’s Manhattan living room, Sotheby’s said. She bought it at the New York Pace Gallery in 1968. An anonymous buyer has now beaten two other bidders in the auction, Reuters noted.
The auction house, owned by the French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, calculates that the entire collection of the New York collector will be sold for more than 400 million dollars (9.2 billion crowns).
According to Julian Dawes, Sotheby’s head of impressionist and modern art sales, the Spanish artist’s painting is “a masterpiece in every dimension”. It was created in 1932, considered to be Picasso’s “annus mirabilis”, a miraculous year in which he succeeded in everything he did.
Marie-Thérèse Walter was Picasso’s “golden muse”, whom he met in 1927 in Paris, when he was married to the Russian-Ukrainian ballerina Olga Khokhlova (spelled Khokhlova in the West). Walter was 17 years old.
Walter was also painted by Picasso in Sleeping Woman in 1934. The painting will be offered on Thursday by rival Sotheby’s, Christie’s auction house, which hopes to fetch between $25 million and $35 million. As early as 2021, Christie’s sold another canvas with Marie-Thérèse Walter for $103 million. Another Picasso from 1932 was auctioned by Christie’s in 2010 for $106 million.
After Wednesday’s auction, at least six Picasso works sold for more than $100 million. The Algerian women became the most expensive painting, for which the buyer paid almost 180 million dollars. This oil on canvas, painted in 1955, is the most expensive piece of modern art ever sold at auction. At the time of the sale, on May 11, 2015, it even obtained an absolute record, which, however, was surpassed in 2017 by the amount of 450 million dollars (10.4 billion crowns) by the painting Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.
Against the international backdrop of wars in Ukraine and the Middle East and inflation, the art market is in excellent shape and is expected to rake in billions of dollars from major auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s during the autumn season in New York, AFP added.