'Femme à la montre' sold for €130 million and is the second most expensive painting ever sold by Picasso.
The famous painting with which Spanish artist Pablo Picasso publicly revealed a love affair to his wife has sold at auction for more than any other work of art this year.
The 1932 painting 'Femme à la montre' ('Woman with a watch') sold for over $139 million (€130 million) on Wednesday at a Sotheby's auction in New York.
'Femme à la montre' was one of many works on sale in an auction of the late philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau's art collection. In total, Fisher Landau's collection is expected to sell for around $400 million (€374 million).
The record sale for 2023 makes 'Femme à la montre' the second most-expensive Picasso painting to sell at auction. In 2015, the 1955 oil painting 'Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O')' ('Women of Algiers') sold for an eye-watering total of $179.4 million. Adjusted for inflation, it sold for $221.4 million (€207.3 million).
'Femme à la montre' was at the centre of a scandal in Picasso's life.
The painting is a portrait of the artist's lover Marie-Thérèse Walter seated in a throne-like chair against a blue background. The titular wristwatch is a motif also seen in artwork Picasso made of his wife, Russian-Ukrainian ballerina Olga Khokhlova.
Walter was 17 years old when she met the 45-year-old Picasso in Paris, and the two later entered into a secret relationship while he was still married to Khokhlova. Walter became his subject for a number of artworks, including the 1932 painting 'Femme nue couchée', ('Nude reclining woman') which sold for $67.5 million (€63.2 million) at auction in 2022.
Picasso painted 'Femme à la montre' at a pivotal year in his career. At 50 years old, he had already achieved widespread fame by 1932 but ramped up his ambitions to silence critics who questioned "whether he was an artist of the past rather than the future," according to the Tate Modern museum.
Fisher Landau bought the painting from New York’s Pace Gallery in 1968 and kept it above the mantle in her Manhattan apartment, according to Sotheby’s.
An anonymous buyer beat out two other bidders for the painting.