An erotically charged Picasso oil painting of his mistress alongside tulips and fruit sold Thursday for $41.5 million dollars in New York.
“Nature morte aux tulipes,” painted in 1932, was the star of Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art sale in Manhattan. The pre-sale estimate for the work had been between $35 million and $50 million.
The painting depicts the head of Marie-Therese Walter, who was Picasso’s lover and famous muse, and a suggestive flower arrangement.
Another of the Marie-Therese series, “Femme a la fenetre (Marie-Therese),” sold for $17.2 million, inside the $15-20 million estimate.
Other successes at Sotheby’s included $12.1 million paid for “Champ de ble” by Claude Monet, well above the $5-7 million estimate.
Paul Cezanne’s “Femme nue debout” went for $5.3 million, inside the estimate, and Henry Moore’s sculpture “Two piece reclining figure No. 1″ sold for $4.7 million, at the high end of the estimate.
However, numerous works failed to find buyers, including Picasso’s “Plant de tomate,” estimated to sell for $10-15 million and the same artist’s “Femme a la robe verte,” which had been listed at $6-8 million. Cezanne’s “La femme a l’hermine,” which had been hoped to fetch between $5 million and $7 million, also flopped.
On Wednesday, Christie’s in New York sold a Monet water lily painting for $43.8 million and saw a painting by Wassily Kandinsky sell for an auction record of $23 million. However, the auction overall was seen as a disappointment with numerous prestigious works not selling.
Next week, the big rival auction houses hold their contemporary art sales.