This Picasso Painting Just Set a World Record for Art at Auction: $179 Million

This undated photo provided by Christie's, courtesy of the Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, shows Pablo Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)," which is being offered for sale at Christie's in New York on May 11, 2015, as part of New York City's spring art auctions. The 1955 masterpiece, estimated to bring more than $140 million, is poised to become the most expensive artwork sold at auction. (2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Christie's via AP)

A Picasso painting became the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction on Monday, going for more than $179 million.

Christie’s said “Women of Algiers (Version O)” sold for $179,365,000. That figure, which the Associated Press reports to include the auction house’s premium, surpasses a Francis Bacon work called “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” that held the top spot, also selling at Christie’s for $142.4 million in 2013.

Picasso painted the work as part of a 15-painting series…(read more)


Picasso, Munch, Van Gogh, Giacometti, Oh My: Poised to Set Records at NYC Auctions

Spring Art Auctions Preview

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s spring art auctions get underway Tuesday with exceptional pieces by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Vincent Van Gogh and others whose work continues to fuel a robust market for impressionist, modern and contemporary art.

Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O),” estimated to bring over $140 million, is poised to become the most expensive artwork sold at auction, while Giacometti’s “Pointing Man” could set an auction record for a sculpture if bidding soars to an expected $130 million.

Both are being offered at Christie’s on May 11.

Experts say the once unimaginable prices are fueled by established and wealthy new buyers and the desire by collectors to own the best works.

“I don’t really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don’t see happening in the near future,” said Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen. “Buyers will flock in from the Far East, the Gulf and Europe.”

In 2012, Edvard Munch‘s “The Scream” fetched nearly $120 million only to be bested a year later when Francis Bacon’s triptych “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” sold for $142.4 million.

Now Picasso’s 1955 “Women of Algiers” could potentially eclipse that stratospheric price tag. The vibrantly colorful work featuring a scantily attired female amid smaller nudes is part of a 15-work series that Picasso created in 1954-1955. It has appeared in several major museum retrospectives of the artist.

Giacometti’s 1947 “Pointing Man,” a life-size bronze of an elongated figure with extended arms, has been in the same private collection for 45 years. Giacometti, who died in 1966, made six casts of the work; four are in museums, the others are in private hands and a foundation collection.

His “Walking Man I” holds the auction record for a sculpture. It sold in 2010 for $104.3 million. Read the rest of this entry »

Picasso Painting ‘Les Femmes d’Alger’ Poised for Record Sale Unveiled in Hong Kong


Picasso masterpiece “Les Femmes d’Alger” went on show for the first time in Hong Kong Wednesday ahead of an auction where it is tipped to smash the world record price for a painting.

The 1955 piece depicts women in a harem and is the final work in a 15-painting series which pays homage to the 19th century artist Delacroix, who Picasso admired.

“It’s one of the great Picassos, period, and it’s one of the last great Picassos that has been in private hands. In terms of Picasso’s quality, it’s at the absolutely top end. It’s an extremely important piece.”

— Derek Gillman, chairman of Christie’s impressionist and modern art department

It is billed to fetch an estimated $140 million when it goes on sale at Christie’s in New York in May — but the auction house says the price could well go higher.

The current world record for any painting sold at auction is for Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud“, which sold for $142 million in 2013, also at Christie’s in New York.

“There aren’t that many museums that can afford works at that level… Increasingly, works that might in the past have gone into museum collections have gone into private collections.”

“It’s one of the great Picassos, period, and it’s one of the last great Picassos that has been in private hands,” Derek Gillman, chairman of Christie’s impressionist and modern art department, told AFP.

“In terms of Picasso’s quality, it’s at the absolutely top end. It’s an extremely important piece,” he said.

The painting was unveiled as part of a preview at Christie’s in Hong Kong ahead of the New York sale and it will also go on show in London later this month.

The piece is inspired by a Delacroix painting of a similar name.

It is also a stylistic tribute to Picasso’s friend and great rival, Henri Matisse, who died five weeks before Picasso began the series. Read the rest of this entry »

Original Asterix Artwork Raises $150,000 for Charlie Hebdo Victims


Christie’s auction house also waived its commission

The original artwork for an Asterix cartoon from the 70s was auctioned for more than $150,000 on Sunday, with proceeds going to victims of January’s attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The cartoon panels from the iconic comic-book series bore a special dedication from co-creator Albert Uderzo, the BBC reported.

Uderzo, 87, briefly came out of retirement earlier this year to draw two tributes to the 12 victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris, where two gunmen opened fire on Jan. 7 over the magazine’s publication of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Auction Records Shattered in London


London, United Kingdom – It took a breathtaking span of 26 hours in London for more records to fall in the thriving global art market.

Works by Gerhard Richter, Lucio Fontana, and Cy Twombly were among those that set the pace at the post-war and contemporary art sales hosted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

The highest priced lot took place on Tuesday when Richter’s Abstraktes Bild surprised the packed auction room on Bond Street with aggressive phone bids coming in at 2 million British pound increments ($3.1m).

The final sale price of 30.4 million pounds ($46.8m) established a new auction record by a living European artist.

Gallery technicians hanging a picture by Gerhard Richter at Sotheby's

The anonymous bidder, reported to be an American, was represented by Sotheby’s worldwide co-head of contemporary art, Cheyenne Westphal.

“I think I can genuinely say it went to someone who truly wanted this painting, and he was set on buying it tonight,” Westphal said, noting Richter also happened to be her favourite artist.

A sister painting of the large abstract work was sold by

Eric Clapton in 2012 for a then-record of 21 million pounds ($32m).

The artwork, which measures 3 x 2.5 metres draped with jagged lines of reds and greens, was last sold on auction at Sotheby’s in 1999 for $607,500, generating a return of 32.4 percent annually.

“Richter is not hot all of a sudden, he has always been sought after,” said Arianne Levene Piper, founder of the New Art World consultancy

“There are plenty of ultra-high net worth collectors who are willing to pay for top works.

This explains why a great painting by a great artist will sell for high prices at auction.”

Works by another European artist, Francis Bacon, failed to make headlines this auction season, despite drumming up a buzz prior to the sales. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous, but Deadly, Lead White: The Banned Color that Most Modern Painters Yearn For





Gorgeous, but deadly, lead white is the banned color that most modern painters yearn for.

Luminous light and glowing skin, especially in 17th-century paintings is likely attributed to lead white. But even as late at the 1870s, death by lead white makeup was still happening.

Today, artists mostly use titanium dioxide, a synthetic white that still doesn’t have the wicked twinkle of lethal lead.

More on colors and history in The Brilliant History of Color in Art.

Burial of Atala, about 1808, After Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson. J. Paul Getty Museum.
Astronomer by Candlelight, late 1650s, Gerrit Dou. J. Paul Getty Museum.
Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Pomegranate, about 1620-1640. J. Paul Getty Museum.


Manet Painting Sells for $65 Million at New York Auction


A stunning 1881 masterpiece by Edouard Manet sold for $65 million at auction in New York on Wednesday, a record for a work by the French impressionist artist.

Le Printemps,” which the auction house Christie’s had valued at $25-30 million, depicts a famous actress of the day and was exhibited in 1882 to critical acclaim while Manet was one of the most famous living artists.

The canvas has been owned by the same family for more than a century and for the last 20 years been on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

It was snapped up by a buyer in the front row who calmly fended off furious bidding on the telephone to clinch the picture for $65.13 million. Read the rest of this entry »