A $55 Million Picasso Painting Could Signal The Art Market Is Bouncing Back

Top line

A portrait of Pablo Picasso of his lover is being projected by Christie’s auction house for a staggering $ 55 million when it hits the auction block next month. This is one of the few expensive pieces that suggests that the high-end art market on the market seems to be recovering from a pandemic slump.

Pablo Picasso poses in his Paris studio.

Bettmann Archive

Key factors

Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), October 30, 1932, is a stylized 1932 portrait of Picasso’s lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, considered by art experts to be one of the seminal years of the Spanish artistic career.

Sotheby’s announced last week it would be auctioning Jean-Michel Basquiat’s larger-than-life masterpiece Versus Medici and estimated it could fetch up to $ 50 million next month.

A Basquiat painting broke a record a few weeks ago when his painting Warrior sold for $ 42 million in Hong Kong. It was the most expensive work of art by a Western artist ever to be sold in an Asian market.

A piece by the world’s most popular street performer, Banksy, also beat the artist’s record last month when his game changer, which honors Britain’s National Health System, was auctioned for $ 20 million and all proceeds went to the NHS.

It’s a welcome change for the art market after the pandemic sparked a decline in sales, especially in high-end art. According to an Artnet report, Impressionist and Modern Art sales fell more than 40% over $ 10 million last year, while total market sales fell 25%.

Aside from a Francis Bacon triptych that grossed $ 84.5 million, no work of art fetched more than $ 33.3 million at auction last year.

Big number

$ 92 million. This is the price of the most expensive painting auctioned so far this year, a rare portrait of the Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli entitled Young Man Holding a Roundel. It was a new record for the artist.

Key background

Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), October 30, 1932, has not been on public display since 2018, when it was part of the popular Picasso exhibition in Paris and London in 1932, according to Christie’s. Before it is auctioned, it will be on display in Christie’s showrooms in Hong Kong, London and New York. Picasso and Walter had an affair that lasted more than a decade, despite Picasso’s marriage to wife Olga Khokhlova. Art historians believe Walter modeled more than a dozen of Picasso’s paintings. Another Picasso portrait by Walter, Femme au Béret Mauve, is expected to fetch $ 15 million at auction next week.

further reading

What the Most Expensive Painting of 2020 Says About the Art Market (Forbes)

Basquiat, valued at $ 42 million, becomes the most expensive Western work of art to be sold at auction in Asia (Forbes).

A New Banksy Record: $ 20 Million Painting Honoring UK Healthcare (Forbes)

Rare Sandro Botticelli portrait sells a record $ 92 million (Forbes)

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