Sotheby's x MGM Resorts blockbuster auction of Picasso masterworks hits jackpot at Bellagio and achieves $109 million

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Sotheby's x MGM Resorts blockbuster auction of Picasso masterworks hits jackpot at Bellagio and achieves $109 million
Sotheby's auctioneer Oliver Barker (C) interacts with the audience and Sotheby's employees taking bids on phones during the Sotheby's "Picasso: Masterworks From The MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection" auction at Bellagio Resort & Casino on October 23, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images/AFP.

LAS VEGAS, NEV.- Yesterday, in the heart of the world famous Las Vegas Strip, Sotheby’s and MGM Resorts International the world-renowned entertainment company, hosted a special, white-glove auction live from Bellagio, where 11 masterworks by Pablo Picasso, showcasing the artist’s entire career and the many media he explored across more than six decades of creative genius, sold for $109 million--exceeding the sale’s high estimate with 100% of the works sold.

The auction was standing room only in a packed Bellagio ballroom, where a frisson of energy in the room drove enthusiastic bidding that extended to nearly all lots on offer.

Yesterday’s sale, Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection, was highlighted by:

• Picasso’s Femme au béret rouge-orange, a 1938 portrait of the artist’s famed muse Marie-Thérèse Walter, which sold for $40.5 million following a prolonged bidding battle

• One of two still lifes on offer, Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs from 1942 well exceeded its $15 million high estimate and sold for $16.6 million. The years between 1940-44, despite the destruction and hardship of World War II, resulted in one of Picasso’s richest periods of still life painting

• Showcasing the power and complexity that defines Picasso’s late work, Homme et enfant sold for $24.4 million. Standing at nearly two meters tall, the 1959 work is a hugely impressive example of the artist’s achievements during a very important stage in his career

• La Fenêtre de l’atelier La Californie, a work painted on ceramic tile capturing a scene from Picasso’s studio at his home in Cannes overlooking the sea, opened the sale with tremendous energy and drama, as more than 20 bids drove the work’s final price to $214,200--nearly four times the low estimate

• Attracting 18 bids, Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe from 1962 achieved $2.1 million, more than four times its $500,000 high estimate. It is the only ceramic produced of this highly influential and important subject matter, molded from the original printing plate for the artist’s series of prints executed in 1962 of Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, d'après Manet, I

The group of works by Picasso were offered from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection and were previously on view at Bellagio’s celebrated Picasso restaurant. The sale comes as MGM Resorts reshapes its public fine art portfolio, deepening its focus on diversity and inclusion.

The auction also marked the largest and most significant fine art sale to ever take place in Las Vegas, as well as the first time that Sotheby’s has ever staged an Evening Sale in North America outside its storied New York saleroom, and featured a custom-built, recreated version of the auction room in Bellagio and featured Sotheby’s chairman and auctioneer Oliver Barker at the rostrum.

Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art, remarked: “When we announced this unique collaboration with MGM Resorts a few months ago, there was an immediate buzz about this special auction. Tonight’s tremendous results only underscore the singular nature of this event, and the importance of creating bespoke experiences that cater to furthering our commitment to existing clients, as well as opening doors for a whole new audience to engage with Sotheby’s. With such a gracious partner like MGM Resorts and a star artist like Picasso, it was an incredible experience to bring our signature Evening Sale experience on the road -- and we look forward to exploring and experimenting with new ways to share the magic of a Sotheby’s Evening Sale.”

“We are grateful to our partners at Sotheby’s for a successful collaboration and a tremendous event weekend. From the receptions to the special programs to the auction itself, together we delivered a weekend program that could only happen in Las Vegas and only at MGM Resorts properties,” said Ari Kastrati, Chief Hospitality Officer for MGM Resorts.

The auction was the centerpiece of a weekend of events and programming celebrating art, luxury, and culture, which included a series of masterclasses on the art of collecting, the genius of Pablo Picasso, an exclusive whisky tasting, and a conversation about the passion of car collecting with Jay Leno, among other events.

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