Christies breaks record with Picasso’s ‘Les femmes d’Alger


Looking forward to the past at Christie's, New York. Image courtesy of Christie's

Christie’s has broken the world record for any work of art sold at auction selling Pablo Picasso’s ‘Les femmes d’Alger’ (Version O)’ for a final hammer price of $179,365,000.

The 1955 painting was last sold in 1997 in the sale of the Collection of Victor and Sally Ganz at Christie’s, when it reached $31.9 million after being estimated to sell for only $10 million to $12 million.

The previous record for any work of art sold at auction was Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud’ which sold in 2013 for $142.4 million also at Christie’s New York.

Christie’s already held the record for a work by Picasso for $106,482,496 for Nude, Green Leaves and Bust (1932), at Christie’s New York in 2010.

The vividly coloured painting is one a series of 15 that Picasso created inspired by Les femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement’ a work by Eugène Delacroix which is currently on display in the Louvre.

“The Picasso was a masterpiece, which proves the trend of ultra-high-net-worth individuals seeking quality artworks,” said Olyiva Kwok, managing partner of Willstone Management. “There were more than 45 bids on it – that’s a strong and solid market.”

Christies did give a public estimate for the painting. It had also guaranteed the sale.

All together the sale brought in $705.8 million with a 97% sell through rate by lot and 99% sold by value. In the sale 10 works set new records, with two lots selling over $100 million, three for over $50 million and nine over $20 million. Only six of the 35 works in the sale sold for under $1 million. The works were dated between 1901 and 2011 with over 70% of them having previously been on display in major museums or exhibitions.

Alberto Giacometti’s 1947 life size sculpture ‘L’homme au doigt (Pointing Man)’ also sold for a record price, becoming the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction. The figurative metal bronze work sold for $141,285,000 breaking the existing record for Giacometti’s work.