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Picasso painting sold at auction for a world record of $106.5 million

May 4, 2010 |  6:02 pm

Picasso
Expectations were high, and expectations were met.

On Tuesday night Christie’s New York sold Pablo Picasso’s bold 1932 portrait of his lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” for $106.5 million, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

The previous world record was held, albeit briefly, by Alberto Giacometti’s 6-foot-tall sculpture “Walking Man I.” Sotheby’s London sold the bronze earlier this year for a total of £65 million, or $104.3 million.

“I think the Picasso illustrates what has been true in good and bad economic times: The very best works of art continue to sell at a premium,” said Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas. He said that the nine bidders active after the opening bid of $58 million “came from all over: from Asia, the U.S., and Europe, including the former Soviet republic.”

The buyer—who had placed the winning bid by phone—was not immediately identified.

The painting belonged to the estate of Frances Brody, the Los Angeles arts patron who died at age 93 last year. Her husband Sidney, a real estate developer, had died in 1983. The estate consigned this Picasso  to Christie’s along with some 80 other artworks. The most valuable pieces went up for auction Tuesday night; the remainder are slated for Wednesday morning. 

To read more about the sale, and who benefits from it, click here.

--Jori Finkel

Follow the writer on twitter: @jorifinkel.

Photo: Picasso's 1932 painting "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust." Credit: AP Photo/Christie's

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