Picasso sells for $69 million in first test of 2018 market

by BLOOMBERG

A Pablo Picasso painting fetched 49.8 million pounds ($69 million) at Sotheby’s in London, exceeding the estimate, in the first test of the year for the high-end global art market.

Gurr Johns, an art advisory firm, bought the painting, Sotheby’s said Wednesday in an email. The seller was a member of the Picasso family, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The jewel-toned 1937 portrait of a Picasso muse sporting a red beret and matching checked dress, was the star lot of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art auctions under way in London.

Estimated at about $50 million, “Femme au beret et a la robe quadrillee (Marie-Therese Walter)” drew bids from several Sotheby’s staffers on behalf of clients, including those from Asia.

“Lots of currency discussions are going on,” the auctioneer Helena Newman said during a bidding war.

The sale makes the painting one of the 10 most expensive by the Spanish artist at auction. The record of $179.4 million was set in 2015.