Picasso nude portrait fetches over 300 mln

Picasso nude portrait fetches over 300 mln

NEW YORK - Reuters
Picasso nude portrait fetches over 300 mln

‘La Gommeuse’ by Picasso set a new record at the Sotheby’s auction. AP Photo

Sotheby’s set a new record on Nov. 5 for a blue period Picasso with a double-sided erotic portrait, at a $300 million-plus auction of Impressionist and modern art that helped dim the memory of a disappointing result just one night earlier. 

Making steady if unspectacular prices, just over three-quarters of the 47 works on offer found buyers, with the $306.7 million total including commission comfortably beating the $275 million low pre-sale estimate. Sotheby’s had tagged the high estimate at about $370 million. 

Picasso’s “La Gommeuse” blue period portrait achieved the top price, fetching $67.5 million and meeting its $60 million expectation. Estimates do not include commission of just over 12 percent. 

The sale marked a recovery of sorts from the auction house’s widely touted sale of the collection of its one-time owner and chairman Alfred Taubman, who was famously convicted and briefly imprisoned in 2002 after a price-fixing scandal that also engulfed archrival Christie’s.  That auction made $377 million, barely making its low estimate. 

Officials seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, with Simon Shaw, Sotheby’s co-head of Impressionist and modern art worldwide, lauding what he called “a small sale that packed a real punch” and praising “a very strong result for any owner sale in the category.” 

Picasso nude portrait fetches over 300 mln

The auction house noted that its $1.67 billion Impressionist and modern total for the year so far was already the highest in its 271-year history. 

Other highlights included Van Gogh’s atmospheric landscape, “Paysage sous un ciel mouvement,” which sold for $54 million against a pre-sale estimate of $50 million to $70 million, and Kazimir Malevich’s “Mystic Suprematism,” sold by the artist’s heirs for $33.9 million (estimate $35 million to $45 million). 

At least two of the top 10 lots were bought by Asian private collectors, continuing a trend of recent seasons. But in a sign that prices for top-tier works might be moderating, the sale’s top-priced works all sold at the very lowest end of their estimate ranges. 

David Norman, Shaw’s partner, explained that with expanding markets like those of the past five years, estimates tend to lag behind rising prices. 

“It’s a smart market at the higher price levels,” Norman said. “People are not going to be led by estimates.” 

“We’re seeing great prices, but there isn’t a relentless, frothy competition and inflation,” he added. 

The auctions continue next week at Sotheby’s and at rival Christie’s, which is holding three major evening sales.

Picasso nude portrait fetches over 300 mln