Picasso's nude portrait 'La Gommeuse' fetches over $67 million at Sotheby's auction

New York: A Picasso picture of a cabaret artist, which carries a second painting on the reverse, sold for $67.45 million in New York on Thursday, scoring a windfall for American billionaire Bill Koch.

 Picassos nude portrait La Gommeuse fetches over  million at Sothebys auction

The 1901 painting 'La Gommeuse' by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. AFP

It was the top lot of the season so far, proving a savvy investment for the Republican party donor who paid just $3 million for the canvas in 1984 and later discovered he got two for the price of one.

Sotheby's had valued the canvas, "La Gommeuse," at $60 million. It was painted in Paris in 1901 when the artist was just 19 years old and grieving the suicide of a close friend.

In 2000, during restoration work, Koch discovered that there was another painting on the reverse -- a mocking depiction of Picasso's art dealer -- that had been hidden under the lining for a century.

It was a lucrative night for Koch. Sotheby's also sold his Monet "Nympheas" (water lilies) study in oil for $33.85 million, clearing its minimum pre-sale estimate of $30 to $50 million.

Another highlight was a Vincent van Gogh, which sold for $54 million.

"Paysage sous un ciel mouvemente" (moving sky over a landscape) was painted a year before the artist's death and shows storm clouds over fields outside Arles, France.

And one of the finest works by Polish-Russian painter Kazimir Malevich still remaining in private hands, called "Mystic Suprematism," sold for $37.8 million.

A small van Gogh of a fat baby in a bonnet, "Le Bebe Marcelle Roulin" smashed its pre-sale estimate by selling for $7.64 million following a prolonged and frenetic bidding war.

David Norman, co-chairman of worldwide impressionist and modern art, joked that it was the most expensive portrait of a baby he had seen in 30 years.

The auction saw Sotheby's kick back with a strong performance after a rather sluggish sale on Wednesday of $377 million worth of art collected by self-made billionaire Alfred Taubman, a former Sotheby's chairman.

Taubman did a brief stint in jail in 2002 for price fixing.

The next week sees Christie's and Sotheby's go head to head in auction sales six months after the spring season smashed a string of records and netted more than $2.6 billion for the rival auction houses.

The most expensive lots this season are a sumptuous nude by Modigliani valued at $100 million, and a pop art masterpiece from Roy Lichtenstein estimated at $80 million.

Both go under the hammer at Christie's.

AFP

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Nov 06, 2015 09:34:20 IST

Also See