Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Sotheby's sells Picasso portrait for $40 million

Sotheby's sells Picasso portrait for $40 millionPablo Picasso's "La Lecture," the portrait that revealed his teenaged mistress to the world, sold for more than $40 million, said Sotheby's. By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- A painting by Pablo Picasso, the first work of art in which he portrayed his teenage lover, sold for more than $40 million in London, according to Sotheby's auction house.

An anonymous buyer on Tuesday paid about $40.7 million for "La Lecture," painted in 1932, said Sotheby's. A "heated" exchange among seven bidders lasted six minutes, with the winning bid placed by telephone, the auctioneer said.

The painting is the first recognizable portrait of Picasso's lover, Marie-Therese Walter, who was 17 years old at the start of their relationship. Prior to this painting, she had "only ever appeared in Picasso's works in code, her features often embedded in the background of his paintings," according to Sotheby's.

The auctioneer said the relationship "was kept a well-guarded secret for many years," partly because of the girl's age, and also because Picasso was married to Russian-Ukrainian dancer Olga Khoklova.

Eventually, Picasso "could no longer repress the creative impulse that his lover inspired," so he finally painted his mistress "in fully recognizable, languorous form," said a Sotheby's press release.

"La Lecture" was sold Tuesday along with 41 other works, including a Surrealist piece by Rene Magritte that broke a world record, according to the auction house.

The auctioneer said Magritte's "Le Maitre d' Ecole," featuring a man in a bowling hat beneath a crescent moon, sold for more than $4 million. That's the largest price ever for a work of art on paper, double the prior record, Sotheby's said. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,813.39 1.20 0.01%
Nasdaq 5,116.14 13.33 0.26%
S&P 500 2,088.87 -0.27 -0.01%
Treasuries 2.23 -0.01 -0.49%
Data as of 6:51pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Pfizer Inc 32.87 0.90 2.82%
HP Inc 12.64 -2.00 -13.66%
General Electric Co 30.36 -0.30 -0.98%
Bank of America Corp... 17.44 -0.03 -0.17%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 8.10 -0.20 -2.41%
Data as of 4:02pm ET


Brazilian police arrested a prominent senator and billionaire CEO for interfering in the investigation of Petrobras, which has pushed Brazil into recession. More

Watsi crowdfunds donations to cover healthcare costs of those in need. And it's seeing a surprising trend: micro-donations via the popular Chinese social networking app, WeChat. More

Some of the coolest toys this year are from small businesses. Here are 10 hot toys that just might be a smash hit this holiday season. More

American consumers saved more in October compared to a year ago -- a sign of a behavioral shift in consumer spending. More