NEW YORK (AP) — A vibrant, multi-hued painting from Pablo Picasso set a world record for artwork at auction, selling for $179 million on Monday night.
“Women of Algiers (Version O)” was part of a sale at Christie’s auction house that also featured Alberto Giacometti’s life-size sculpture “Pointing Man,” which was poised to set a record as the most expensive sculpture sold at auction. They were among two dozen masterpieces from the 20th century Christie’s offered in a curated sale titled “Looking Forward to the Past.”
The Picasso price included the auction house’s premium. Experts say the prices are driven by artworks’ investment value and by wealthy new and established collectors seeking out the very best works. “I don’t really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don’t see happening in the near future,” Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen said.
Impressionist and modern artworks continue to corner the market because “they are beautiful, accessible and a proven value,” added Sarah Lichtman, professor of design history and curatorial studies at The New School. “Women of Algiers,” once owned by the American collectors Victor and Sally Ganz, was inspired by Picasso’s fascination with the 19th-century French artist Eugene Delacroix. It is part of a 15-work series Picasso created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A through O. It has appeared in several major museum retrospectives of the artist. The most expensive artwork sold at auction had been Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” which Christie’s sold for $142.4 million in 2013.