Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting “Reclining Nude Woman” sold for $67.5 million on Tuesday in its auction debut at Sotheby’s in New York, the newest major premium art auction.
The eight-figure sale price comes a week after Andy Warhol’s 1964 screen-printed portrait of Marilyn Monroe fetched $195 million at Christie’s, setting a record for a work by an American artist sold at auction.
Auction house Sotheby’s predicted Picasso’s painting, a surreal depiction of his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, would sell for more than $60 million.
Tuesday’s price is lower than other portraits of Maria Theresa, one of which sold for $103.4 million at Christie’s last year.
“Woman naked lying” which translates from French as “Nude Reclining Woman”, shows Marie-Thérèse Walter as a multi-limbed sea creature with her head tilted back in profile. His love of swimming and his grace in the water inspired the allusion to the sea, as Picasso himself could not swim, according to Sotheby’s.
Marie-Thérèse was 17 when she met Picasso, 45, in Paris. They began a secret relationship while he was still married to his first wife, Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova.
Marie-Thérèse became his model for numerous paintings and sculptures and gave birth to his daughter, Maya Widmaier-Picasso.
“Reclining Naked Woman” was born out of a particularly creative and pivotal year for Picasso. Barely 50, he had already achieved widespread fame in 1932, but stepped up his ambitions to silence critics who wondered ‘if he was an artist of the past rather than of the future’, according to the Tate Modern. .
Amy Cappellazzo, the former head of Sotheby’s global fine art division, bought the painting at Sotheby’s Modern Evening Sale in New York. She left the auction house last year.
The seller acquired the work in 2008 from Picasso’s heirs, who had owned it for decades, according to Sotheby’s. Industry publication Artnet identified the seller as hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen.
A 1908 oil painting by Claude Monet showing a view of Venice, Italy also sold for $56.6 million on Tuesday.