Picasso Painting breaks auction record with $63.7 million

Pablo Picasso’s ‘Femme Assise’, painted in the summer of 1909 — when the artist traveled to the remote Spanish village of Horta de Ebro, which could only be reached by mule — sold for $63.7 million at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday, marking it the most precious cubist painting ever sold at auction.

It has been decades since a Cubist painting of this caliber has been offered at auction. Virtually all the significant works of this period are in international museums and institutions.

Helena Newman, Sotheby’s global co-head of Impressionist and Modern Art

Depicting the French artist, model and Picasso’s mistress Fernande Olivier, the painting is one of a series of innovative paintings that helped him achieve the style we consider Cubism today. ‘Femme Assise’ has been part of a private collection since 1973, when Sotheby’s in London sold the painting for about $500,000 in today’s dollars.

After a bidding war between enthusiasts at Sotheby’s in London, the painting sold for $63.7 million on Tuesday, which is $20 million more than the expected price. The work was purchased on behalf of a telephone bidder by Adam Chinn, part of Art Agency, Partners, an art consultancy recently acquired by Sotheby’s.

The overall record for a Picasso was set last year when the 1955 painting ‘Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)’ sold for $179.4 million at Christie’s.

The second most expensive work sold on Tuesday was a portrait of Amedeo Modigliani, ‘Jeanne Hébuterne (au Foulard)’, which sold for $56.7 million. A Modigliani painting of a reclining nude sold for $170.4 million at Christie’s last year.

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