Pablo Picasso once again proved his appeal to wealthy collectors when the artist's portrait of his second wife Jacqueline was the top lot at Christie's
impressionist and modern art sale in London on Tuesday.
"Tete de femme (Jacqueline)", painted in 1963, fetched 8.1 million pounds ($13 million), around double its presale estimate of 3-4 million pounds. The sale price includes buyer's premium whereas the estimate does not.
The painting has not been seen in public since 1967 and has been in the same collection for nearly 30 years.
Jacqueline had an unusually short neck and it is said that Picasso would jokingly exaggerate its size in his portraits -- as in this elongated example.
The result helped the world's leading auctioneer raise 66.7 million pounds from the sale overall, according to provisional results on Christie's website, towards the top end of expectations of between 48.3-69.1 million pounds.
The total is further evidence of a relatively robust art market that has been less affected by the economic crisis than many experts had predicted.
The second highest price on the night was 7.1 million pounds paid for Dutch artist Kees van Dongen's "La Gitane" versus a pre-sale estimate of 5.5-7.5 million pounds.
Russian painter Natalia Goncharova's "Espagnole", offered at auction for the first time, was sold for 6.4 million pounds, above the high estimate of six million.
Christie's also held a surreal art sale on Tuesday which raised around 10.1 million pounds, within expectations of 8.2-11.7 million.
Rival auction house Sotheby's holds its impressionist and modern art sale in London on Wednesday. (Reporting by Mike Collett-White)