Picasso sells for (gulp) $106.5 million at auction

May 5, 2010

A 1932 portrait by Pablo Picasso, capturing his lover on canvas, has become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. [Los Angeles Times]

The painting, “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust” went for $106.5 million Tuesday night at Christie’s New York. Nine bidders from all over the world jostled to purchase the painting, following an opening bid of $58 million.

The buyer has not yet been identified.

The painting, inspired by Picasso’s then-lover, Marie-Therese Walter, came from the estate of Frances Brody, the Los Angeles art patron who died last year at the age of 93. The estate consigned the Picasso to Christie’s alone with 80 other pieces of art.

The previous world record for art sold at auction was held by Giacometti’s “Walking Man I,” which sold earlier this year in London for $104.3 million.

Other Picassos have sold for $104.2 million and $95.2 million, giving the artistic icon three of the four most expensive pieces of art in the world.

Brody bought “Nude, Green leaves, and Bust” in January 1951 from a new York gallery for $19,800 ($166,000 in today’s dollars).