Modern masters retain their value but do not inspire competition

Some might consider successful auctions of Impressionist and Modern art to be a thing of the past, but the most famous names of the European avant-garde can still attract towering prices, and even new collectors.

Tuesday evening, at Sotheby’s in Manhattan, a painting by Pablo Picasso representing his young lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, dating from the fabulous year 1932, sold for 67.5 million dollars with fees to Amy Cappellazzo, co-founder of Art Intelligence Global, a consulting firm based in New York and Hong Kong. She was the only bidder.

Estimated to raise at least $60 million, it topped an auction of 58 lots in Sotheby’s updated modern art category, which ditched less fashionable impressionist images. The Picasso was presented by New York mega-collector Steven A. Cohen, according to Artnet News, and had never been auctioned before.

“It’s voluptuous, sexy and surreal,” said Guy Jennings, senior director of the Fine Art Group, a New York-based consulting firm.

“Reclining Naked Woman” shows Marie-Thérèse asleep by the sea, her naked body seemingly transformed into a surreal fantasy sculpture. It was one of 30 large-format canvases inspired by Picasso’s love affair with Marie-Thérèse, whom he met by chance outside a metro station in 1927 when she was 17. He was 45.

Both curators and collectors regard 1932 as an Annus mirabilis in Picasso’s development as an artist. “Reclining Nude Woman” has been included in recent prestigious exhibitions at the Picasso Museum in Paris and the Tate Modern in London dedicated to this year’s production alone. The last Picasso to fetch a seven-figure price at auction was another 1932 painting, “Woman Seated by a Window (Marie-Therese)”, which sold for $103.4 million last May.

“The Grand Canal and Santa Maria della Salute” by Claude Monet executed in 1908 and estimated at around $50 million, sold for $56.6 million including fees. This job only attracted two offers.

The total for the night was $408.5 million.

One of three female artists in the Modern Evening sale, British-Mexican painter Leonora Carrington, might have appreciated her “Garden of Paracelsus” which sold for $3.3 million, nearly double its high estimate of $1. .8 million.

It was one of the few lots to inspire determined competition.

About Frances White

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