Picasso masterpiece to fetch $120m in November auction

Thursday September 14 2023

The renowned Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. PHOTO | POOL


The November auction of a Pablo Picasso masterpiece, the late Spanish painter's "Femme a la montre" from 1932, is expected to fetch at least $120 million, Sotheby's announced Wednesday.

The painting, which depicts Picasso's mistress wearing a watch, will be sold as part of a two-day auction of late New Yorker Emily Fisher Landau's prestigious collection.

Other works up for sale include pieces by Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.

Fisher Landau, a longtime board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and a renowned art patron and collector, passed away in March at age 102.

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Sotheby's said in a statement that around 120 pieces from her collection would be for sale and "estimated to bring well over $400 million" in total, with "Femme a la montre" making up a significant portion.


Julian Dawes, head of the Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art division, called the Picasso painting "a masterpiece by every measure."

"It is full of joyful, passionate abandon yet at the same time it is utterly considered and resolved," said Dawes, noting its creation in 1932 was part of Picasso's "annus mirabilis," or miracle year.

The year 1932 was so important in Picasso's work that an entire exhibition was devoted to it in 2018 at London's Tate Modern museum.

Marie-Therese Walter (1909-1977) was Picasso's "golden muse" who would go on to be featured in "many of his most accomplished portraits," Sotheby's said.

The lovers met in Paris in 1927, when the Spaniard was still married to Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova, and while Walter was 17.

Walter, whose daughter with Picasso passed away last year, was also featured in "Femme assise pres d'une fenetre (Marie-Therese)," which sold in 2021 for $103.4 million by Christie's auction house.

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Fifty years after his death in 1973 at age 91, Picasso remains one of the most influential artists of the modern world, often hailed as a dynamic and creative genius.

But in the wake of the #Metoo movement, the reputation of this workaholic with a vast output of paintings, sketches and sculpture has been tarnished by accusations he exerted a violent hold over the women who shared his life and inspired his art.