NEW YORK: One of Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces, “Woman with a Watch”, was sold at auction last night for US$139.3 million (RM652.4 million) by Sotheby’s in New York, the second-highest price ever achieved for the artist.
The 1932 painting depicts one of the Spanish artist’s companions and muses, the French painter Marie-Therese Walter, and had been valued at over US$120 million before going on the block, according to Sotheby’s.
“Femme a la montre” is part of Sotheby’s special sale this week of the collection of New York arts patron Emily Fisher Landau, who died this year at the age of 102.
Julian Dawes, the house’s head of impressionist and modern art, called the Picasso canvas – which hung in Landau’s living room – “a masterpiece by every measure”.
“Painted in 1932, it is full of joyful, passionate abandon yet at the same time it is utterly considered and resolved,” he said.
Walter was considered Picasso’s “golden muse” and features in another of his works on the block today at Christie’s: “Femme endormie”, or “Sleeping Woman”, estimated to sell for US$25-$35 million.
She also featured in “Femme assise pres d’une fenetre (Marie-Therese)”, which was sold in 2021 for US$103.4 million.
Walter met Picasso in Paris in 1927, when she was just 17 and the Spanish artist was still married to Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova. The couple had a daughter together who died last year.
The record sale of a Picasso was of “The Women of Algiers (Version O)”, a 1955 oil painting sold for US$179.4 million. When it was sold at Christie’s New York in 2015, it was also the record for any work of art sold at auction.
It was dethroned in November 2017 by the sale of “Salvator Mundi” attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, which went under the hammer for US$450 million and holds the record to this day.