Eleven Pablo Picasso artworks have been auctioned for a total of nearly US$110 million after being on display for more than two decades in a Las Vegas hotel. The pieces were owned by MGM Resorts and were featured in the Bellagio Hotel’s Michelin-starred French and Spanish eatery, Picasso. The restaurant is inspired by the artist’s life and work. Coinciding with Picasso’s 140th birthday, it was organised by Sotheby’s. It is its first evening marquee sale to take place outside of New York. The auction featured nine paintings and two ceramic pieces by the Spanish artist, who died in 1973.
The star of the sale was the 1938 “Femme au béret rouge-orange,” or “Woman in a reddish-orange hat,” a 1938 portrait of Picasso’s lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter. It was initially expected to sell between US$20 million and US$30 million and was eventually auctioned off for US$40 million. Another large-scale portrait was the “Homme et Enfant” or “Man and Child” that sold for US$24.4 million. Sotheby’s said the piece reflected his later spontaneous style and his role as a father.
Homme et Enfant, left, and Buste d’homme, right. Image: Sotheby’s
Also included in the sale was “Nature Morte au Panier de Fruits et aux Fleurs” or “Still life with fruit basket and flowers”, which was painted by Picasso during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1942. It was sold for US$16.6 million. Picasso’s less high-profile works also exceeded the auction estimates, such as the 1962 painted terracotta “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” — inspired by Edouard Manet’s 1863 painting of the same name — selling for over four times its highest valuation.
The record for a Picasso painting is US$179.4 million, which was paid for his painting “The Women of Algiers” in 2015. Some works revealed intimate details of Picasso’s life and work such as a ceramic tile showing the window of his workshop titled “La Californie”, in Cannes which overlooked the sea. In an August press release, MGM said the auction would help diversify its art collection. The collection was started more than 20 years ago by Steve Wynn, the former owner of Bellagio Hotel. The sale was part of an effort by the hotel to add more works by women, minority artists and those from emerging countries to the collection.