Will $186m Picasso painting set new auction record?

Will $186m Picasso painting set new auction record?
PRICEY: Picasso's The Women Of Algiers (Version 0) on display last week. It will be up for grabs when Christie's puts it on the auction block on May 11, along with Giacometti's bronze statue Man Pointing.

NEW YORK - Christie's auction house is hoping to set new world records with a Picasso painting valued at US$140 million (S$186 million) and a Giacometti sculpture worth US$130 million.

Pablo Picasso's colourful The Women Of Algiers (Version 0), depicting a scene from a harem, will be up for grabs when Christie's puts it on the auction block on May 11.

The same goes for Alberto Giacometti's bronze statue Man Pointing, of which there are only six casts in the world.

"Those two works can set a world record," said Loic Gouzer, senior vice-president of Christie's. "You don't have another chance to get them."

The painting and statue are the flagship works at the evening sale titled Looking Forward to the Past, which will see 35 pieces of art created between 1902 and 2011 auctioned off.

The rising price of works of art at auctions is attributed to the growing number of wealthy, private investors around the world, experts say.

Giacometti's nearly 1.8m-tall depiction of a wiry man holding up one hand and pointing with the other is the artist's "most celebrated sculpture", Mr Gouzer said. The Swiss sculptor's masterpiece represents "when Giacometti became Giacometti, the ultimate work, the Holy Grail of sculpture".

Meanwhile, Picasso's nearly 1.2m by 1.5m canvas is "a masterpiece at the level of Guernica and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," Mr Gouzer said.

"He painted several versions until he got this one," he added.

Picasso created the painting in 1955, inspired by 19th-century French painter Eugene Delacroix but as a homage to Henri Matisse, who died in November 1954. The work is one of the last major paintings by the Spanish master in a private collection.

The world record for a painting sold at auction is US$142.4 million for Francis Bacon's Three Studies Of Lucian Freud, which was snapped up in New York in 2013. The record for priciest sculpture is already held by Giacometti, whose Walking Man I sold for US$104.3 million in London in 2010.

Also up for grabs to the highest bidder will be a painting from Claude Monet's The House Of Parliament series, expected to bring in between US$35 million and US$45 million, and Mark Rothko's 1958 No. 36, Black Stripe, with an estimated value of US$30 million to US$50 million.

New York's eagerly anticipated spring auction season begins tomorrow, when Sotheby's presents 69 impressionist and modernist works worth an estimated total value of more than US$270 million.

Among them are six Monets, all from private collections, with an estimated value of US$110 million, including a Water Lilies painting valued at between US$30 million and US$45 million.

Another star of the evening will be Vincent Van Gogh's 1888 Les Alyscamps, created during his time in Arles, France and worth more than US$40 million.

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