LAS VEGAS: In a seemingly unprecedented collaboration, Sotheby’s is teaming up with MGM Resorts in Las Vegas to auction off a rare trove of Picasso works that it expects to rake in some $100 million.
And rather than sell the lots at a marquee evening sale in an art capital like New York, Sotheby’s will stage the auction at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas on October 23.
The sale, which will also be livestreamed and coincides with what would have been Picasso’s 140th birthday (a marketing point organizers have been keen to tout), will feature what Sotheby’s calls “a highly curated selection” of 11 paintings, works on paper, and ceramics made between 1917 to 1969.
The star lot will be Femme au béret rouge-orange, one of the artist’s many portraits of his muse and lover Marie-Thérèse Walter. It is estimated at $20 million to $30 million. Another picture of Walter, 1932’s Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), sold for $103 million with premium at Christie’s New York in May.
Pablo Picasso, Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs (1942). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.
Another work, Homme et enfant (1969), which is among the largest paintings Picasso ever executed, encapsulates the artist’s preoccupation with his life and legacy during the late period of his career, according to Sotheby’s. The presale estimate is also $20 million to $30 million.
The sale is rounded out by several works on paper, including a portrait of the commedia dell’arte character Pierrot estimated at $2.5 million to $3.5 million; a wartime still life painted in Paris in 1943, Nature morte aux fleurs et au compotier, that is estimated at $6 million to $8 million; and Aiguière – Visage, a ceramic pitcher that is estimated at $60,000 to $80,000.
The collection also carries a guarantee.
Pablo Picasso, Femme au béret rouge-orange (1938). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s and MGM said the sale marks “the largest and most significant fine art auction to ever take place in Las Vegas.”
For a time, the Picasso works were all on view at the eponymous restaurant in the Bellagio, and before the sale, they will travel to Sotheby’s New York galleries for a fall exhibition late next month (September 7 to 13). They return for display to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art from October 21 to 23.
Some highlights will also travel to Taipei and Hong Kong, a reflection of the increasing importance of newly wealthy Asian clients in driving growth in the art market, especially since the pandemic.
Pablo Picasso, Pierrot (1917). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.
MGM Resorts said the decision to sell the works was motivated by equity and inclusion concerns.
Ari Kastrati, the company’s chief hospitality officer, said in a statement that the resort can be “a tremendous platform for showcasing diverse perspectives within the art community. While diversity has long been in MGM Resorts’ DNA, we are committed to creating an even more inclusive collection that maintains the breadth of our existing portfolio while giving a greater voice to artists from under-represented communities.”
MGM Resorts will devote a portion of the sales proceeds towards acquiring new artworks by a diverse group of artists.