Picasso Masterpiece Expected to Fetch Over $120 Million at Sotheby’s Auction


Stepping into the heart of the fall season, an esteemed masterpiece by impeccably acclaimed maestro Pablo Picasso, dubbed “Femme à la montre”, is posited to amass a staggering sum exceeding $120 million when it graces the auction floor. Sotheby’s in New York will host this monumental auction as part of a two-day event in the upcoming November, unveiling the remarkable collection cultivated by the late Emily Fisher Landau.

Essentially capturing Picasso’s illustrious paramour and golden muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, the 1932 oil painting – a stunning composition measuring 51¼ x 38 inches (130 x 96.5 centimeters) – has been instrumental in defining many of his celebrated portraits.

Coming from the exceptional yield of the Spanish artist’s illustrious year of creation and set as the focal point of the Musée Picasso Paris and London’s Tate Modern 2018 exhibitions, the portrait exemplifies an artistic crescendo. Julian Dawes, at the helm of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art for the Americas, marveled at the piece’s intricate resolution, vibrant primary hues, and its dynamic fusion of fervent passion with serene deliberation.

The inception of the vibrant piece can be traced back to Picasso’s fated encounter with Walter in the enchanted city of Paris in 1927, a clandestine muse affair unfolding amidst his marriage to first wife, the Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova. Walter’s magnetic charisma captivated Picasso, inspiring an array of his much-coveted canvases, sculptures, and sketches.

Gradually, Picasso’s escalating affection for Walter poured into his work, laying bare the previously concealed passions that, albeit inadvertently, triggered the dissolution of his marital bond. This emotional catharsis found an artistic outlet in “Femme à la montre”, created in the aftermath of Picasso’s premier widespread retrospective at Galerie Georges Petit in Paris.

Sotheby’s encapsulated the masterpiece as an awe-inspiring testimony to Picasso’s artistic liberation, an exhilarating eruption of robust primary hues and exquisite forms seamlessly juxtaposed with meticulous minutiae yielding an intensely complex yet resoundingly harmonious artwork.

Housing the masterpiece is the globally distinguished art trove of Fisher Landau, whose lifetime of art connoisseurship culminated in approximately 120 enticing pieces prior to her passing earlier this year. Her collection, replete with gems from the creative vaults of Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Willem de Kooning, and Georgia O’Keeffe, carries an estimated total worth north of the $400 million mark.

Fisher Landau began her committed journey into collection post a substantial insurance payment, granted in response to a noteworthy robbery at her residence. Rendered unable to reassemble her original yet stolen collection, she resolved to channel efforts towards a fresh artistic endeavor.

Picasso’s interpretations of Walter have persistently caught the discerning eyes of collectors, his startling rendering of her as a marine entity with multiple appendages securing a remarkable $67.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York. His other eminent Walter depictions, namely “Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse)” and “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust”, respectively fetched $103.41 million in 2021 and $106.5 million in 2010.

Elevating Picasso’s auction legacy even further, his “Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”)” reaped an unparalleled $179.4 million in Christie’s New York auction back in May 2015, the highest bid for an art piece in auction history.


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