Arts & Entertainment

Picasso dazzles as portrait of lover fetches $103 million at NYC auction

(Update 1: adds details, minor edits throughout)

By Helen Cook

New York City, US, May 13 (EFE).- A Pablo Picasso portrait of his lover became the star of Christie’s 20th Century Art auction held Thursday in New York, where a nearly 20-minute battle between two bidders raised the sale price of the work to $103.4 million.

The bidding for “Femme Assise Près d’une Fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse),” a large, vibrantly colored portrait of Picasso’s muse and lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, came close to doubling the estimated price tag of $55 million estimated by experts at the auction house.

Bidding started at $45 million and stopped at $90 million, to which fees and taxes were later added.

The piece, measuring 146 x 114cm, is considered an exceptional work by Picasso, since the Spaniard normally painted Marie-Thérèse lying down, naked, with her eyes closed and appearing lost in her own thoughts. In this she sits relaxed, but commanding and stately, on a black chair near a window.

In addition, it was painted in 1932, one of the artist’s most productive and coveted years. “Everyone wants one of his 1932 works,” said Vanessa Fusco of the auction at Christie’s Thursday.

Specifically, it was produced in October 1932 at Picasso’s Château de Boisgeloup in Normandy, and is part of a series of portraits of Marie-Thérèse that were exhibited in “Picasso, 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy,” which in 2017 and 2018 was displayed at the Tate Modern in London and at the Musée Picasso in Paris.

In the curvilinear cubism painting, Marie-Thérèse, who met Picasso outside a gallery at 17 years of age when the painter was 45, is dressed in red, green and lilac.

Shortly after, another painting by the Spaniard, “Femme Dans un Dauteuil,” which had been valued at $15-20 million, went up for auction, but only reached $14.7 million, which rose to $17.1 million with fees.

A third Picasso, “Tete de Femme,” sold for a more modest price of $4.1 million dollars, although it exceeded expectations of $3.5 million.

A large sculpture by Joan Miró, “Femme (Femme debout),” sold for $4.1 million, notably below the $7 million minimum price anticipated.

The second most sought-after artist of the night was the Frenchman Claude Monet, whose “Waterloo Bridge, Effet de Brouillard” sold for $48.4 million, exceeding the estimate of $35 million.

The piece, in blue tones and that Monet began at the peak of his career in 1899, is considered one of his most important London landscapes to have gone up to auction, and is one of the few works in the series that remains in private hands.

“Untitled,” by Mark Rothko in dark blue and green and documented as the penultimate work of the American and one of only three that he painted in 1970 before his death, fell below the $40 million that had been predicted, going for $38.1 million.

But the biggest surprise was the 1968 oil painting “Toweling Off,” by the American Wayne Thiebaud, who turned 100 last year. It reached $8.5 million, quadrupling the $1.8 million maximum price expected by Christie’s. EFE


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