Friday, April 30, 2010

Picasso Painting Could Fetch $90 Million At Auction

Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," was painted in 1932.
-- A Picasso painting could sell for as much as $90 million at Christie's auction. Also for sale are several Warhols, a Matisse, and a Munch. One of the most valuable private art collections ever offered at auction, led by a $90 million Picasso, will be sold in May at Christie's in a sign that the art market might soon flirt with the record levels seen before the financial crisis struck in 2008. The sale of more than 50 works from the estate of Mrs. Sidney Brody, a Los Angeles philanthropist who died in November, is conservatively estimated to sell for more than $150 million, and is one of two prestigious collections being handled by Christie's, the other being some 100 works owned by late best-selling writer and director, Michael Crichton. The star of the the Brodys' modern art collection, most of which was assembled during the 1950's, is Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," a pristine, vibrant large-scale portrait of Picasso's mistress and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter from 1932. It was the couple's first Picasso, acquired directly from Picasso's dealer in 1951 for $19,800, and has not been seen publicly in nearly 50 years. Christie's estimates the work to sell in the region of $70 million to $90 million, which would achieve one of the top prices for art at auction. "They express a wonderful moment in Picasso's career which is all about romantic obsession. It's about line. It's about color, and it's about scale. They're huge statements. They are wonderful, exuberant love letters to a figure, Marie-Therese, who inspired in Picasso some of his greatest art," said Conor Jordan, Christie's head of Impressionist and modern art in New York. Alberto Giacometti's "Grande tete mince," estimated at $25 million to $35 million, Edvard Munch's "Fertility," estimated to sell for up to $35 million, and a Matisse nude expected to sell for $20 million to $30 million, are other highlights. "The sale itself, the works that we are offering, the sculptures and the paintings are definitely among the strongest groups that we have brought to market in many years. And all indications from our clients at the moment is that they will be very well-received and we're experiencing unprecedented pre-sale interest," added Jordan. Also for sale is the Michael Crichton collection. The centerpiece of the collection is one of Jasper Johns seminal "Flag" works, created from 1960 to 1966, which the best-selling author of "Jurassic Park" and creator of the hit television series "ER" acquired from the artist in 1973 and kept in his bedroom until his death in 2008. Crichton did not consider himself a serious collector, once writing "I just bought images that I enjoyed looking at. Estimated at $10 million to $15 million, Christie's said it was priced conservatively in view of a still-recalibrating market. An earlier Johns Flag reportedly sold for around $110 million on the private market. The Crichton collection, which also features Picassos, Warhols and Lichtensteins, is expected to take in $50 million to $75 million, although competition for such prestigious private collections often sends prices far above expectations. Christie's Impressionist and Modern art sale is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4. The Crichton and Post-War & Contemporary Art sale is set for Tuesday, May 11.

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