Pablo Picasso: 'Nude, Green Leaves and Bust'
May 5th 2010, source: Christie's
Marc Porter, Chairman of Christie's Americas, commented: "This was a stellar night for Christie's and for the art market. The sale was led by exceptional prices for works by Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Henri Matisse from the Brody Collection, one of the greatest private collections to come to market. In addition, we witnessed great depth of bidding and strong results for important works from other American and European collections, including additional paintings by Picasso and works by Giacometti and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We are honored to have been entrusted with so many remarkable works this season, and we are delighted to have delivered such positive results, including three new world auction records for Picasso, Georges Braque, and Jean-François Raffaelli."
The star lot of the evening, and the most anticipated work to come to market from private hands in the last decade, was Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, a sensuous and stunning masterpiece from Picasso’s celebrated 1932 series of paintings depicting his muse and mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. Referred to as the “lost” 1932 Picasso because it had never before been published in color, Nude Green Leaves, and Bust was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Brody in 1950 for $17,000 from the art dealer Paul Rosenberg. It had been exhibited in public only once since its purchase, at a 1961 exhibition sponsored by the UCLA Art Council. At the auction, eight bidders competed for the Brody Picasso, as Christie's lead auctioneer and Honorary Chairman Christopher Burge started the bidding at the $58 million mark. Mr. Burge took bids from within the saleroom and on the phone before the competition settled down to two bidders at the $88 million mark and a one-on-one battle ensued. Finally, at 7:32pm – nine minutes after the bidding open – the final bid was hammered down and a new world record for the most expensive artwork at auction was sealed at $106,482,500.
Modern sculpture was an important facet of the Brody Collection, and two Giacometti bronzes proved the continuing appeal of the artist, and sculpture as a medium, to collectors at the sale. Giacometti’s lean, stealthy Le chat sold for $20,802,500 (₤13,729,650/€16,017,925), while the artist’s Grande tête mince – the most highly-prized of the artist’s busts – realized $53,282,500 (₤35,166,450/€41,027,525), well above its high estimate.
A new world auction record for a work by Braque was achieved with the sale of La treille, a large-format scene of a terrace garden covered in twisting vines, that sold for $10,162,500 (₤6,707,250/€7,825,125), soaring well above its estimate of $3-5 million. The jewel-like Autoportrait by Edouard Vuillard, a superb early self-portrait executed just after 1890, fetched $2,658,500 (₤1,754,610/€2,047,045), also clearing its high estimate. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Brody collection will be donated the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, where the late Mrs. Brody was a guiding patron. The proceeds will be used to support the Huntington’s goals of encouraging research, and promoting education, arts, humanities and botanical sciences.