A PAINTING by Malaga-born brush maestro Pablo Picasso has become the most expensive Cubist work ever sold, as it fetched an astronomical €56.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London on Tuesday June 21.
The artist’s ‘Femme Assise,’ painted in 1909 when he was aged just 27 and travelled to the remote village of Horta de Sant Joan at the border between Aragon and Cataluña to develop his Proto-Cubism style, is regarded as one of his greatest portraits.
It depicts his model and lover Fernande Olivier, of whom he made a series of canvases, with the painting last having been sold publicly in 1973 for €442,000, and it has now far exceeded the estimate of €39 million after a bidding war broke out, with a telephone bidder eventually emerging triumphant.
The overall record for a Picasso was set in 2015, when his 1955 work ‘Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)’ went for €233.2 million at Christie’s.
“It has been decades since a Cubist painting of this caliber has been offered at auction,” said Helena Newman, global co-head of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s. “Virtually all the significant works of this period are in international museums and institutions.”
The painting was sold at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, with Amedeo Modigliani’s ‘Jeanne Hébuterne (au Foulard)’ fetching €50 million, and over €134 million splurged overall.