A portrait of Picasso's mistress reading led the sales results Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale on Tuesday night in London. Pablo Picasso's iconic 1932 painting of Marie-Thérèse Walter, La Lecture was hammered down at £25,241,250 ($40,711,612) more than double the low estimate of £12 – 18 million. The bidding ended after a spirited battle among at least seven bidders, both on the phone and in the salesroom. It sold to an anonymous buyer bidding over the telephone. The sale brought in a total £68,834,400 falling neatly within the pre-sale estimate of £55,630,000 - 79,250,000. The sale was 84.5% sold by value and the average lot value for the works was £2.15 million/ $3.5 million.
Last year another painting from the same year also featuring Picasso's beloved mistress Marie-Therese Walter, Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, sold for $106.5 million at Christies setting a record for Picasso and for any artwork sold at auction. La Lecture was acquired by the present owner in 1996.Picasso first saw young Marie-Thérèse on the streets of Paris in 1927, when she was just seventeen years old. Because of her age and the status of his marriage to Olga Khokhlova the relationship was kept quiet for several years. This painting was part of a colorful explosion of works painted in January 1932 in anticipation of the major retrospective that he was planning. The famous Le Reve which is currently owned by Steve Wynn is also from this highly fertile time period.
Helena Newman, Chairman, Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Europe reported that buyers came from 11 countries, with bidding from Asia, Russia, the US and Europe. Other highlights includes a sculpture by Marino Marini which sold for £4,185,250 and Henry Moore's important large-scale Reclining Connected Forms which brought in £2,057,250. A new auction record was achieved for a work on paper by Surrealist artist René Magritte with the sale of Le Maître d'École for £2,505,250. The gouache on paper depicting Magritte's iconic bowler-hatted man sold for over double the pre-sale estimate of £800,000 – 1.2 million and double the previous record for a work on paper. A record price in sterling was also reached for Giorgio Morandi's Natura Morta, which sold for £1,385,250 against an estimate of £800,000- £1.2 million.