Going, going, gone

Picasso works sell for $109 million at Sotheby’s Las Vegas auction
By Ella Joyce | Art | 26 October 2021

‘Bust d’Homme’ by Picasso, 1969, Sotheby’s

In 1998 when tycoon Steve Wynn opened the Bellagio resort on Las Vegas’ infamous strip, it marked a shift in the culture of the city: instead of roulette machines and poker tables, Wynn adorned the walls of his Italian-themed resort with none other than twenty-two original Picasso pieces. After the Bellagio was acquired by MGM in 2000 and now nearly two decades after those paintings were hung, a Sotheby’s auction selling eleven of Wynn’s original collection has taken place in the city to mark the Spanish artist’s 140th birthday, totalling a hefty sum of $109 million.

‘Femme au Béret Rouge-Orange’ by Picasso, 1938, Sotheby’s

As a man that shaped the trajectory of 20th-century art – founding Cubism, inventing constructed sculpture and co-inventing the practice of collage, just a few defining moments of his career – it comes as no surprise that an auction of such a vast collection garnered major attention. The biggest auction held by the house in North America outside of New York, Sotheby’s chair Oliver Barker took the reigns as auctioneer to an audience that included the likes of Leonardo di Caprio.

The highest price of the night went to the 1938 paitning Femme au Béret Rouge-Orange, a portarit of Picasso’s muse and lover Marie-Thérèse Walter, fetching a cool $40.5 million. Other big sales of the night included Homme et Enfant, the 1969 two-metre-high late period work, selling for $24.4 million and Buste d’Homme, which went for $9.5 million.

The auction comes at a time when MGM has decided to take a step towards diversifying their collection – something many galleries have been focusing on this past year. In an attempt to acquire more pieces from women, LBTQ artists, and artists of different races, a portion of the proceeds from the auction will be spent on buying works from under-represented creatives. 

‘Homme et Enfant’ by Picasso, 1969, Sotheby’s

‘Bust d’Homme’ by Picasso, 1969, Sotheby’s

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