Picasso painting fetches $67.5 million at auction in New York

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A man walks past an artwork titled ‘Femme nue couchee’ by Pablo Picasso during a media preview for Sotheby’s contemporary and modern art spring auction in New York City, the United States, May 6, 2022. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/

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NEW YORK, May 17 (Reuters) – The 1932 painting ‘Femme nue couchée’ by Pablo Picasso made its auction debut at Sotheby’s in New York on Tuesday for $67.5 million, the latest big sale at an auction for blue chip art.

The eight-figure sale comes a week after Andy Warhol’s 1964 silkscreen portrait of Marilyn Monroe fetched $195 million at Christie’s, setting a record for a work by an American artist at auction. Continue reading

Auction house Sotheby’s had predicted that the Picasso painting, a surrealist depiction of his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, would sell for over $60 million. Tuesday’s prize falls short of other portraits of Marie-Thérèse, one of which fetched $103.4 million at Christie’s last year.

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“Femme nue couchée”, which translates from French as “naked reclining woman”, shows Marie-Thérèse as a multi-limbed sea creature in profile with her head tilted back. Her love of swimming and grace in the water inspired the nod to the sea as, according to Sotheby’s, Picasso himself could not swim.

Marie-Thérèse was 17 when she met the 45-year-old Picasso in Paris. They began a secret relationship while he was still married to his first wife, Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova. Marie-Thérèse became his model for a number of paintings and sculptures and gave birth to his daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso.

“Femme nue couchée” emerged from a particularly creative and crucial year for Picasso. At just 50 years old, he had already achieved widespread fame in 1932, but escalated his ambitions to silence critics who wondered “if he was more of an artist of the past than of the future,” according to the Tate Modern.

Amy Cappellazzo, the former head of Sotheby’s global art department, bought the painting at Sotheby’s Modern Evening Sale in New York. She left the auction house last year.

The seller acquired the work in 2008 from Picasso’s heirs, who had owned it for decades, according to Sotheby’s. Industry publication Artnet identified the seller as hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen.

A 1908 oil painting by Claude Monet depicting a view of Venice, Italy, also sold for $56.6 million on Tuesday.

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Reporting by Ben Kellerman; Adaptation of Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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