Picasso painting sets art auction record
NEW YORK - Associated PressA vibrant, multi-hued painting from Pablo Picasso has set a world record for artwork at auction, selling for $179.4 million on May 11, while a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti set a record for most expensive sculpture, at $141.3 million.
Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” and Giacometti’s life-size “Pointing Man” were among dozens of masterpieces from the 20th century Christie’s offered in a curated sale titled “Looking Forward to the Past.”
Christie’s global president, Jussi Pylkkanen, who was the auctioneer, said the two pieces were outstanding works of art.
“I’ve never worked with two such beautiful objects,” Pylkkanen said.
The Picasso price, $179,365,000, and the Giacometti price, $141,285,000, included the auction house’s premium. The buyers elected to remain anonymous. Overall, 34 of 35 lots sold at the auction for a total of $706 million.
Experts say the prices were driven by the artworks’ investment value and by wealthy collectors seeking out the very best works.
“I don’t really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don’t see happening in the near future,” Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen said.
Impressionist and modern artworks continue to corner the market because “they are beautiful, accessible and a proven value,” added Sarah Lichtman, professor of design history and curatorial studies at The New School.
“I think we will continue to see the financiers seeking these works out as they would a blue chip company that pays reliable dividends for years to come,” she said.
“Women of Algiers,” once owned by the American collectors Victor and Sally Ganz, was inspired by Picasso’s fascination with the 19th-century French artist Eugene Delacroix. It is part of a 15-work series Picasso created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A through O. It has appeared in several major museum retrospectives of the Spanish artist.
The most expensive artwork sold at auction had been Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” which Christie’s sold for $142.4 million in 2013.
“Pointing Man,” depicting a skinny 1.5-meter-high bronze figure with extended arms, has been in the same private collection for 45 years.
Giacometti, who died in 1966, made six casts of the work; four are in museums, and the others are in private hands and a foundation collection.
His “Walking Man I” had held the auction record for a sculpture. It sold for $104.3 million in 2010.Among other highlights at Christie’s was Peter Doig’s “Swamped,” a 1990 painting of a canoe in a moonlit lagoon, which sold for slightly less than $26 million, a record for the British artist.
Monet’s “The Houses of Parliament, At Sunset,” a lush painting of rich blues and magenta created in 1900-01, sold for $40.5 million, in line with pre-sale estimates but well short of a record for the artist.
Christie’s also had a Mark Rothko for sale. “No. 36 (Black Stripe),” which had never appeared at auction, also sold for $40.5 million, on par with predictions. The 1958 work was sold by German collector Frieder Burda, who exhibited it in his museum in Baden-Baden for several years.
Last year, Christie’s said its global sales of impressionist and modern art were $1.2 billion, an increase of 19 percent over the previous year.
Following new auction records set in New York on May 11, here are the top 10 most expensive pieces of art sold under the hammer. All but one were sold in New York.
1. Pablo Picasso, “The Women of Algiers (Version 0)” - $179.365 million at Christie’s in New York on May 11, 2015.
2. Alberto Giacometti, “Man Pointing” - $141.285 million in the same auction.
3. Francis Bacon’s, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” - $142.4 million at Christie’s in New York on Nov. 12, 2013.
4. Edvard Munch, “The Scream” - $119.92 million at Sotheby’s in New York on May 2, 2012.
5. Pablo Picasso, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” - $106.48 million at Christie’s in New York on May 4, 2010.
6. Andy Warhol, “Silver car crash (Double disaster)” - $105.44 million at Sotheby’s in New York on Nov. 13, 2013
7. Pablo Picasso, “Garcon a la pipe” - $104.16 million at Sotheby’s in New York on May 5, 2004.
8. Alberto Giacometti, “L’homme qui marche I” - $103.93 million at Sotheby’s in London on Feb. 3, 2010.
9. Alberto Giacometti, “Chariot” - $100.96 million at Sotheby’s in New York on Nov. 4, 2014.
10. Pablo Picasso, “Dora Maar au chat” - $95.21 million at Sotheby’s in New York on May 3, 2006.
(Source: New York – Agence France-Presse)