Picasso’s Women of Algiers went on to become the most expensive painting to be auctioned, when it sold itself to a winning bid of $179.3m (£115m) at Christie’s in New York. And with this, it also beat the $142.4m record set by British painter Francis Bacon’s ‘Three Studies of Lucian Freud.’
The telephonic bidding war went on for eleven minutes, between two candidates who choose to remain anonymous. The curating gallery Christie’s had predicted an escalation up to $140m, but the winning bid of $179.3m – out of which, Christie’s gets a 12 percent cut – transcended every expectation
Experts believe the investment value of art is behind the high prices. ”I don’t really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don’t see happening in the near future,” said Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen to BBC News.
The 1955 cubist oil Les femmes d’Alger dates back to 1955, and depicts nude courtesans from the Algiers unwinding in their homes. It is loosely based on Eugene Delacroix’s 1834 Women of Algiers in their Apartment, which also shows Algerian concubines reclining and smoking a water pipe. Picasso’s rendition is albeit a more colorful and modernistic one.
This painting, marked Version ‘O’ is a part of a 15-painting series by Pablo Picasso, which were designated letters from A to O, and remains one of the Spanish artist’s last few works in private circulation and possession.
Another record was also broken at the same gala by Alberto Giacometti’s life-size sculpture ‘Pointing Man,’ which officially became the most expensive sculpture, going for a winning bid of $141.3m.