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Picasso and Giacometti Smash Auction Records

Picasso and Giacometti Smash Auction Records

Picasso is one of the most famous artists ever to have lived, and a recent auction of one of his paintings has gone on to prove that.

Les Femmes d’Alger (left in the cover photo) is Picasso’s 15-piece interpretation of Eugène Delcrois’s Women in Algiers, titled Versions A through O.

The final piece in the collection, Version O, has become the most expensive painting to sell at auction, wiping out the recording previously set. This was held by Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which we told you about back in December 2013.

The vibrant oil painting was being sold at Christie’s Rockefeller Centre in New York. It was estimated to sell for $140 million (£89 million), which would have put it very close to Bacon’s record of $142 million (£90.7 million).

Bidding for Les Femmes d’Alger lasted about 11 minutes, breaking down to telephone bidders for the last few hair-raising minutes.

When the final bid was placed, there were cheers, gasps and applause as the hammer came down at $160 million (£102 million). After the fees have been incorporated, this amounts to a whopping $179 million (£114 million)!

Picasso started the Les Femmes d’Alger shortly after the death of his friend, fellow artist Henri Matisse. Matisse specialised in paintings of exotic Turkish harems, and so Picasso took on this mantle in honour of his friend. It also enabled him to bring together many of the influences that informed his own work.

Philip Hoffman, Fine Art Fund Group CEO, describes the painting as one of the most exciting that has been on the market in the last decade. “Yes, there are one or two that could smash that record, but it had a huge wall presence – it is a big show-off picture,” he added. “For anybody that wants to have a major Picasso, this is it.”

But Picasso wasn’t the only artist to break a record at this particular auction. Alberto Giacometti’s Pointing Man (right in the cover photo), a life-size sculpture, became the most expensive sculpture to have been sold at auction, going for $141 million (£90 million).

The winning bidder of the Pointing Man, like that of Les Femmes d’Alger Version O, wishes to remain anonymous.

Mr Hoffman and other art experts believe that the hike in both interest and prices of art is just going to keep on rising, because so much of it is so much in demand. All in all, though, he is excited about the Picasso sale.

“I don’t think we have ever seen a sale as important as this in Christie’s and Sotheby’s [auction houses] in my 25 years of working in the art world,” he said.

Brett Gorvy is the International Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christies and who placed the winning bid on behalf of the unnamed bidder, and agreed.

“The most important thing when you are dealing with an incredible masterpiece is to remind the [bidder] that they are not going to see these paintings come up again,” he said.

“This is once in a lifetime.”


Image source: Christie’s website

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