This Picasso -- "Women of Algiers" -- was sold for $179,000,000 at a recent Christie's auction.
The buyer is a rich, well-known European, who already has a valuable collection. Eighteen years ago this painting sold for $31.9 million -- just by sitting around, it earned the seller $47.5 million.
The Christie's auctioneer called it, “One of the greatest moments in auction history.” Washington Post art critic, Michael Miller, said, "The orgiastic art sale was unprecedented, but it wasn’t particularly surprising. Instead, the towering sales prices were right on trend: the almost predictable outcome of an international art market that's so hot its paint is dripping."
New York Magazine art critic, Jerry Saltz, points out that Picasso’s vibrant masterpiece has barely been seen over the past 60 years. We aren’t just missing out on a masterpiece -- this painting was Picasso’s response to the works of Henri Matisse, Saltz explained.
"The rivalry -- one of the most famous in art history -- began in 1907, when Matisse's 'Blue Nude,' was dismissed as 'a design' by Picasso."
From then on, Picasso was in competition with Matisse's every artistic move. It was Cubism versus Fauvism, the beginning of the avant-garde movement. Les fauves (wild beasts) were painters who broke with Impressionism and the older traditions.
Their rivalry, that profoundly affected the art world, is a story to be told with every exhibition, but the Christie's auction makes that unlikely. Billionaires are now buying and storing masterpieces in their homes or warehouses, until they appreciate more value. Art as an investment can deliver serious returns.
It happened in 2012 with the "Scream," by Edvard Munch. A hedge fund billionaire paid $120 million for it. A year later, Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” reached $142.4 million.
Prices are climbing steeply. Even prices for relatively unknown, young artists.
This Israel Lund painting sold at Christie’s for $125,000 after selling for $7,500 last year.
That's an increase of 1,567 percent, according to Michael Bloomberg's website.
Other young artists' works are increasing at similar rates, making it almost impossible for museums to invest in future greats, let alone compete for masters. The headlines touting the sale of the world's most expensive painting are probably as close as we'll ever get to Picasso's masterpiece.
Oh my... I find that sad --