Picasso’s Women of Algiers has become the most expensive painting to sell at auction, going for $160m (£102.6m) at Christie’s in New York. Eleven minutes of prolonged bidding from telephone buyers preceded the final sale – for much more than its pre-sale estimate of $140m. The final price of $179.3m (£115m) includes commission of just over 12%.
The sale also featured Alberto Giacometti’s life-size sculpture Pointing Man, which set its own record. It is now the most expensive sculpture sold at auction, after going for $141.3m (£90.6m). Both buyers chose to remain anonymous. The previous world record for a painting sold at auction was $142.4m, for British painter Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud in 2013. The Picasso oil painting is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans, and is part of a 15-work series the Spanish artist created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O. “This is an absolutely blockbuster picture – it’s one of the most exciting pictures that we’ve seen on the market for 10 years,” said Philip Hoffman, founder and CEO of the Fine Art Fund Group. “Yes there are one or two [Picassos] that could even smash that record but it has a huge wall presence, it’s a big show-off picture. “For anybody that wants to have a major Picasso, this is it – and $179m in 10 years’ time will probably look inexpensive,” said Hoffman. Edited from: Picasso’s Women of Algiers smashes auction record