Picasso painting sells for $103m in New York

The painting "Woman Sitting Near a Window (Marie-Therese)" is the fifth Pablo Picasso work to sell for more than $100-million. AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas

NEW YORK - Pablo Picasso's "Woman Sitting Near a Window (Marie-Therese)" sold for $103.4-million at Christie's in New York, the auction house said.

The painting, completed in 1932, was sold after 19 minutes of bidding for $90-million, which rose to $103.4-million when fees and commissions were added, Christie's said.

Christie's had estimated the painting -- bought by an online bidder in California -- would sell for $55 million. 

The sale confirms the vitality of the art market despite the COVID-19 pandemic -- but also the special status of Picasso, who was born in 1881 and died in 1973. 

The generally good performance of Thursday's auctions, totalling $481-million, "signals a real return to normal and also a message that the art market is really back on track," said Bonnie Brennan, president of Christie's America.

The painting, depicting Picasso's young mistress and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, was acquired only eight years ago at a London sale for 28.6 million pounds (about $44.8-million), less than half the price offered on Thursday. 

Five works by the Spanish painter have now crossed the symbolic threshold of $100-million. 

Even before this sale, he was already alone at the top of this very exclusive club with four paintings, including "Women of Algiers", which holds the record for a Picasso, at $179.4-million in 2015. 

"He was an artist, but he was also seven artists at the same time," said Giovanna Bertazzoni, vice-president of Christie's 20th and 21st centuries department.

She said Picasso's personal life, his aura and his love life still resonate today even though his work dates back more than 100 years.

"It's still incredibly contemporary and speaks to us," she said.


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