Picasso paintings sell for £42 million at London sale

22nd June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Three works by Pablo Picasso, each depicting a different one of the Spanish artist's lovers, sold at a London auction on Tuesday for a total of 42 million pounds, smashing pre-auction valuations.

A 1939 portrait of Dora Maar, who became Picasso's lover and inspiration after long-time muse Marie-Therese Walter, sold for £17,961,250 ($29 million, 20.2 million euros) at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale.

"Femme assise, robe bleue", which was painted shortly after the outbreak of World War II, had been unseen since it was exhibited in Switzerland 1967 and had been expected to realize between £4 million and £8 million.

1935 work "Jeune fille endormie", an intimate portrait of the artist's former lover Marie-Therese, fetched £13.5 million, easily surpassing its £9 million valuation.

The 45-year-old Picasso met his mistress, who was 17 at the time, when she was leaving the Paris subway in 1927.

The painting shows Marie-Therese asleep and is celebrated for its use of bold, expressionist colours and brush strokes.

The painting was anonymously donated to the University of Sydney in 2010 and proceeds from the sale will be channelled into the institution's scientific research programmes.

Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's London, said: "It is an absolute jewel of painting that has been unseen, hidden in a private collection, for over 60 years.

"It has been hugely exciting to exhibit this painting to the public in Hong Kong and London over recent months, where it has attracted great praise, and to see it attract such strong interest from collectors at this evening's auction."

Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney said the sale would "change the lives of many people.

"We are grateful for their extraordinary generosity and delighted with the outcome of the auction," he added.

Thirdly, "Buste de Francoise", a portrait of Francoise Gilot, eventually sold for £10,681,250.

The 1946 piece depicts the woman who became Picasso's lover in the 1940s and bore two of his children.

However, the piece which held highest expectations going into Tuesday's auction failed to sell.

Claude Monet's "Ninfeas" was expected to fetch around £24 million but failed to reach its reserve price, the auction house revealed.

Despite the high-profile no-sale, the auction raised £140 million.

© 2011 AFP

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