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 21,394.76 -2.53 -0.01%
Nasdaq 6,265.25 28.56 0.46%
S&P 500 2,438.30 3.80 0.16%
Treasuries 2.14 -0.01 -0.42%
Data as of 6:34am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Advanced Micro Devic... 14.17 -0.21 -1.46%
Bank of America Corp... 22.82 -0.11 -0.48%
Micron Technology In... 31.73 -0.16 -0.50%
Ford Motor Co 11.04 -0.09 -0.81%
Oracle Corp 50.95 0.65 1.29%
Data as of Jun 23
Sponsors

Sections

A federal judge says Ivanka Trump must give a deposition in a lawsuit brought against her by an Italian shoemaker claiming her fashion label copied its designs. More

Orlando Lopez's parents brought him to the U.S. seeking the American Dream, but he didn't find true happiness until after he was deported to Mexico. More

The average guest at a wedding last year spent $888 per wedding, according to a study from the Knot. For those in the wedding party, the price of being a stand-up friend was over $1,000. More