What Price Art? Picasso Nude Sells for Record $106.5M
May 5, 2010
(ChattahBox)—The late Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s kitschy, wildly exaggerated surrealist paintings of his many mistresses are in high demand by collectors. And on Tuesday, Christie’s successfully rode that wave all the way to the bank, with a record-setting auction of Picasso’s 1932 painting Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for $106.5 million.
The massive painting of his mistress and model Marie-Thérèse, depicts her reclining nude, with a bust of Picasso’s head looming over her. A black band flowing from Picasso’s visage is draped over Marie-Thérèse, as if enslaving and dominating her.
The back story of the painting is tragic. Picasso and Marie-Thérèse became lovers when she was just 17, and he was 45 and married to first wife, Olga Khokhlova. She gave birth to his first daughter Maya, but was cast off by Picasso when he moved on to his next mistress, three-years after she modeled for Nude, Green Leaves and Bust. Marie-Thérèse, a forlon figure, spent the remainder of her life hoping Picasso would marry her. He never did. Marie-Thérèse committed suicide by hanging herself, four-years after Picasso’s death.
Marie-Thérèse was also the model for Picasso’s Le Rêv, which depicts the young woman with an elongated, upturned penis sprouting from her chin.
Now, decades later, her reclining nude image sells for an unimaginable figure; surpassing the high end estimate of $90 million set by Christie’s auction house, by $5 million. The sale, to an unidentified buyer bidding by telephone, broke the previous record of a Giacometti sculpture that sold for $104.2.
Nude, Green Leaves and Bust has only been displayed once in the United States, in 1961 in an Los Angeles exhibit to honor Picasso’s 80th birthday.
The painting was purchased in the 1950s by Frances Lasker Brody, a wealthy California art collector and has remained in the family, until now.
You have to wonder what Marie-Thérèse would have thought, if she were alive.
Photo Credit: Christie’s