$179.36 million. That’s how much an anonymous buyer paid for Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting, Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”), earlier today, becoming the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
It eclipses Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which Christie’s sold for $142.4 million in 2013. Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) was last sold at auction for $31.9 million in 1997.
According to Olivier Camu, Christie’s Deputy Chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art:
“Les femmes d’Alger, (Version “O”) is the culmination of a herculean project which Picasso started after Matisse’s death, in homage to his lost friend and competitor, and which over a period of two months and after nearly 100 studies on paper and 14 other paintings led to the creation of this canvas in February 1955. Picasso painted a series of 15 variations on Delacroix’s Les femmes d’Alger, designated as versions A through O. Throughout his series, Picasso references the Spanish master’s two versions of the shared subject, intermingling their elements.”
The Picasso was the centerpiece of Christie’s Looking Forward to the Past auction which also included the sale of Alberto Giacometti’s life-size sculpture, Pointing Man, which set a record as the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction at $141.3 million.
All told, the auction, which ends on Wednesday is expected to generate over $2.5 billion in sales.