May 12, 2015 / 8:54 AM / 4 years ago

$179 mln Picasso shows art and QE in fine fettle

LONDON, May 12 (Reuters Breakingviews) - A high quality sale straddling impressionist and contemporary works paid off for Christie’s to the tune of $706 mln. That makes Sotheby’s look leaden-footed, even before the regular Christie’s sales of both genres. Meanwhile, easy money means more new price records are likely.

Full view will be published shortly.


- A Picasso oil painting from 1955 smashed the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction when it soared to $179.4 million at Christie’s in New York on May 11.

- The auction house had estimated “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” would sell for about $140 million, but several bidders competing via telephone drove the winning bid to $160 million, for a final price of $179,365,000 including a commission of just over 12 percent.

- The most expensive work of art previously sold at auction had been Francis Bacon’s triptych “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” which sold for $142.4 million at Christie’s in November 2013.

- Giacometti’s 1947 sculpture, “L’homme au doigt” (Pointing man), set a world record for a sculpture, selling for $141.3 million.

- The special “Looking Forward to the Past” sale, which spanned collecting categories to include artists from Monet to Warhol, took in a total of $705.9 million, above the pre-sale estimate of $578 million to $668 million. Only one of the 35 works failed to sell.

- Christie's statement

- Reuters: Picasso painting sells for $179.4 mln, smashing art auction record

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his / her own.)

- For previous columns by the author, Reuters customers can click on [RYAN/]

Editing by Richard Beales and Sarah Bailey

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