Sunday 22 April 2018

Picasso portrait of teenage mistress sells for almost €30m

An employee poses with Picasso's
An employee poses with Picasso's "La Lecture" at Sotheby's auction house in London. Photo: Reuters

Andy Bloxham

A Picasso portrait of his teenage mistress sold for £25,241,250 (€29.7m) in a sale of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday night.

The painting, called La Lecture, depicts Marie-Therese Walter, a 17-year-old blonde the artist met outside a Paris Metro station in 1927.

Picasso, then 45, approached her with the gambit: "I am Picasso. You and I are going to do great things together.''

Their relationship remained secret for many years because of her age and the fact that the artist was married but she was the subject of several of his most celebrated pictures.

The work was painted in 1932 and shows her asleep in a chair. It was first exhibited at an exhibition in Paris that year and has since passed through numerous high profile private collections before being sent for sale from America.

The oil painting was bought anonymously on the telephone for more than double the £12m (€14m) low estimate. The picture had been forecast to fetch up to £18m (€21m) and was contested by six bidders.

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