Friday 15 November 2019

Picasso masterpiece to sell for world record $155m

Pablo Picasso’s ‘Les femmes d’Alger (Version O)’
Pablo Picasso’s ‘Les femmes d’Alger (Version O)’

Philip Sherwell

A vibrant masterpiece by Pablo Picasso, painted as an elegy to his friend and rival Henri Matisse, is predicted to set a new world record for an artwork sold at auction tonight.

Widely regarded as the most important painting by the Spanish artist to remain in private hands, Les femmes d'Alger (Version O) has been the star turn in a pre-sale global tour taking in Hong Kong, London and Manhattan.

The piece is expected to smash the current auction record - $142.4m (€127m) for a Francis Bacon triptych at Christie's New York in 2013 - when the bidding finishes in the same room in New York's Rockefeller Centre.

Christie's has estimated it will fetch $140m, but with the standard commission of about 12pc added, this would rise to more than $155m - enough to break the record set for Bacon's painting of his friend Lucian Freud.

However, in the current feverish market, where records fall with the regularity of an auctioneer's hammer, and with Picasso popular among high-rolling modern art aficionados, some say the final bid will be significantly higher.

The owner of the painting is selling the work anonymously. (Daily Telegraph, London)

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