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Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso
July 27
15:34 2012

Pablo Picasso is unarguably one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century. To this day, creations by the Spanish master are among the most prized artworks of collectors and museums around the world. Picasso’s paintings often sell for millions of dollars. But collectors are reluctant to let their precious Picassos out of their possession.

The artist’s most expensive painting to sell at an auction; N***, Green Leaves and Bust currently holds the world record for being the highest priced painting to ever be auctioned. Which paintings are Picasso’s biggest money-spinners? We listed out the top ten most expensive paintings by Picasso .

1. N***, Green Leaves And Bust (1932)

Auction House: Christies
Price: $106.5 million in May 2010

N***, Green Leaves and Bust” tops our list of the most expensive Picasso paintings. It also holds the enviable distinction of being the most expensive painting to ever be sold at an auction. The painting depicts Picasso’s famous mistress and muse Marie-Therese Walter. A nude Marie-Therese sprawls across the bottom half of the painting, while her bust (a sculpture that Picasso had created in 1931) adorns a pedestal. The leaves are of a philodendron or love tree, a fast-growing plant that Picasso had in his own home. A closer look reveals Picasso’s lips emerging from behind a veil. Painted within a single day, the painting represents a rich phase of Picasso’s career. By this time, the artist had become very skilled in his art and had begun using symbolism. Back in 1952, art collectors Sidney and Frances Brody bought the artwork for a bargain price of $17,000. The painting remained in the Brody collection until May 2010, when it fetched $106.5 million at a Christie’s auction. The painting is widely rumored to be part of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich’s art collection.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

2. Garcon A La Pipe (1905)

Auction House: Sotheby’s
Price: $104 million in May 2004

The second most expensive Picasso painting, Garcon a la Pipe, is a portrait of a Parisian working boy. The boy holds a pipe in his hand and wears a string of roses on his head like a crown. Picasso painted this masterpiece when he was only 24. As the colors suggest, this artwork belongs to Picasso’s Rose Period. John Whitney, the American ambassador to Britain was the first buyer of this Picasso classic. Whitney bought the painting in 1950 for $30,000. It remained in Whitney’s private collection until May 2004. Whitney’s wife, Betsey, had set up the philanthropic Greentree Foundation after her husband’s death in 1982. The Foundation put the painting up for auction with Sotheby’s in 2004. Experts at Sotheby’s set pre-auction estimates at $70 million  until then, the highest ever pre-sale estimate for a single painting. As it turned out, Garcon a la Pipe overshot the estimates by a massive margin fetching $104 million at the auction.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

3. Dora Maar Au Chat (1941)

Auction House: Sotheby’s
Price: $95.216 million in May 2006

Picasso had several mistresses in his lifetime. One of the most famous was surrealist photographer Dora Maar. Dora Maar au Chat is one of Picasso’s most iconic paintings. It is also one of the most expensive. The artwork features Dora sitting on a chair, while a small black cat stands behind her. The painting showcases Picasso’s brilliant use of bold colors. The complex pattern of Dora’s dress adds to her dramatic posture. Picasso had often described Dora as his private muse. In 1963, Chicago-based art collectors Leigh and Mary Block sold the painting to a private collection. The painting returned to the marked only in May 2006 at a Sotheby’s auction. Pre-auction estimates valued the painting at about $50 million. However, the painting surpassed the pre-sale figures by huge margin. An anonymous collector bought the painting from Chicago’s Gidwitz family for almost double the estimated price, paying $95.216 million for it.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

4. Femme Aux Bras Croises (1902)

Auction House: Christie’s
Price: $55 million in November 2000

Also known as Woman with Crossed Arms, this painting belongs to Picasso’s Blue Period. The subject of the portrait is believed to be an inmate of the Saint-Lazare hospital-prison in Paris. One of the owners of this famous painting was Gertrude Stein, a writer and art collector who famously became the subject of a Picasso painting in 1906. In 1936, the painting passed into the hands of a new buyer, American art collector Chauncey McCormick. Femme aux Bras Croises remained in the McCormick family until the year 2000, when it was sold via a Christie’s auction to an anonymous buyer, following a tremendous bidding war. The sale price of $55 million remains one of the highest ever fetched by a Picasso painting.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

5. Pierrette’s Wedding (1905)

Auction House: Binoche et Godeau
Price: $51.3 million in November 1989

Picasso painted Pierette’s Wedding or Les Noces des Pierette in 1905, during his Blue Period. The 4-foot x 6-foot painting shows Harlequin blowing a kiss to the bride. The shades of blue add a degree of moroseness to what should have been a celebratory scene. The presence of blurred images in the painting suggests that the painting might be incomplete. But art experts confirm that the painting is complete. Art dealer Josef Stransky, a friend of Picasso, acquired the painting in 1907. Later, between 1945 and 1962, it passed into the hands of Paulo Picasso, the artist’s son. Thereafter, Swedish financier Frederick Roos purchased the painting and donated it to the French government. In November 1989, the painting went up on auction. Japanese real estate developer Tomonori Tsurumaki placed the winning bid of $51.3 million via telephone from Tokyo. At the time, this was a record price for a Picasso sold at auction.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

6. Femme Assise Dans Un Jardin (1938)

Auction House: Sotheby’s
Price: $49.5025 million in 1999

In Femme Assise dans un Jardin, Picasso once again depicts Dora Maar, this time in a garden setting. By this time, Picasso had begun his experiments with Cubism. The painting is a fine example of his Cubist style. Apparently, Picasso completed this famous painting within the space of one day. Femme Assise dans un Jardin remained in the private collection of cellist and composer Daniel Saidenberg for many years. The painting was sold only after Saidenberg’s death in 1997. But the magic year came in 1999, when the Picasso painting went for about $49.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

7. Le Reve (1932)

Auction House: Christie’s
Price: $48.4 million in November 1997

Picasso’s mistress Marie-Therese Walter forms the subject of this expensive Picasso painting. The artist captures his muse asleep on a chair  a scene that is repeated in another painting from the same series, La Lecture. Picasso was 50 at the time; Marie-Therese was 24. It is believed that Picasso painted the piece within a single afternoon on 24 January 1932. The painting is famous for its erotic content, as well as for an accident that occurred in 2006. In November 1997, the painting became the sixth most expensive painting ever sold when it fetched $48.4 million at a Christie’s auction. By 2006, then owner Steve Wynn was planning to sell the painting for nearly thrice the 1997 amount  $139 million. Unfortunately, while showing the painting to friends, Wynn accidentally put an arm through the painting, thereby lowering its value to $85 million. He took the accident as a sign not to sell the artwork. To this day, La Reve” remains in the Wynn collection.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

8. Yo, Picasso (1901)

Auction House: Sotheby’s
Price: $47.9 million in May 1989

This early painting by Picasso was a self-portrait from the artist’s ‘Blue Period. The 1901 painting fetched a six-figure amount, specifically $5.8 million, during a 1981 auction conducted by Sotheby’s. The buyer was a well-known art collector named Wendell Cherry. Eight years later, Cherry took the Picasso masterpiece back to the auction block. Yo, Picasso was sold once again at a Sotheby’s auction, this time to an anonymous bidder. Auctioneer John L. Marion conducted the bidding. The winning bidder paid $43.5 million, plus a 10 percent Sotheby’s auction fee, that pushed the price up to almost $47.9 million. When the painting sold in May 1989, it became the second-most expensive artwork sold to that date.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

9. La Lecture (1932)

Auction House: Sotheby’s
Price: $40.711612 million in February 2011

La Lecture is an oil-on-panel portrait. Once again, it featured Picasso’s mistress Marie-Therese Walter. The blonde Marie-Therese is captured nude asleep on a chair. A book rests on her lap. The 1932 painting was created in the same year as Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, Picasso’s highest-priced painting to date. Back in 1932, La Lecture initially went on display at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. Apparently, this painting also brought to an end Picasso’s marriage with Olga Khokhlova when Olga realized that the model in the painting was not herself. The bright colors and sheer poetry of the artwork, saw it passing into several prestigious art collections. The painting came up for auction at Sotheby’s as recently as February 2011. The super-short bidding process took only eight minutes. The buyer was an anonymous Russian client who bid via the telephone. The painting sold for a little over $40.7 million.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

10. Au Lapin Agile (1904)

Auction House: Sotheby’s
Price: $40.7 million in 1989

There is an interesting story behind this expensive Picasso painting. Apparently, Picasso painted Au Lapin Agile in return for free meals at a famous cabaret of the same name in Monmartre. Picasso presented the painting to Frede, the owner of the cabaret. Not knowing then that the painting was a veritable golden egg, Frede sold the painting for a mere $20 in 1912. Art collector Joan Whitney Payson acquired the masterpiece in 1952. By then, the value of Au Lapin Agile” had ballooned from $20 to $60,000. The painting was to remain in the Payson family until 1989, when the art collector’s daughter Linda de Roulet consigned the painting to a Sotheby’s auction. The auction house estimated that the painting would fetch between $35 million and $40 million. The painting just overstepped the mark. It was sold to the Annenburg Collection for $40.7 million.

Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings By Pablo Picasso

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3 Comments

  1. Damien
    Damien May 08, 15:59

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    Reply to this comment

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