Christie's auction of the art collection of famed Picasso dealer Jan Krugier has been topped by Picasso's Claude et Paloma.
The work crossed the block in New York last night (November 4), realising $28m - a 133.3% increase on its $12m estimate. The sale marks the first of many high-profile auctions for Christie's New York in November.
The top lot of the sale was expected to be Picasso's Head (Maquette for the Public Sculpture of the Chicago Civic Centre), which was anticipated to sell for $25m-35m but failed to meet its reserve.
According to the Wall Street Journal, dealers attributed the lack of interest to the fact that the piece is considered a "quirky one-off" from Picasso, yet it held an estimated value similar to one of his masterpieces.
Overall, the sale saw lacklustre bids. It was originally estimated to total between $157.8m and $224.4m, though only managed to reach $92.5m.
Claude et Paloma apart, those works that did sell just managed to top their low estimate, with Picasso's Bust d'homme ecrivant selling for $6.6m against a $6m-8m valuation, and Baigneuse sur la plage, estimated at $4.5m-6.5m, realising $4.6m.
Alberto Giacometti's Tete de Diego au col roule, a bronze executed in 1951, was expected as a highlight but fell well short of its $6m-9m estimate to realise $3.9m.
Even Jean-Michel Basquiat, an artist whose work has been riding a wave of success with several record sales, saw disappointing bids, with Crisis X selling for $2.8m against a $3m-4m estimate.
The auction is followed by a day sale of Krugier's collection and the Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale today (November 5). The Impressionist sale will be led by Diego en Chemise Ecossaise, a $30m-50m masterpiece from Alberto Giacometti.
It remains to be seen whether the poor showing last night will affect today's sales.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a fantastic signed postcard from Picasso for sale, as well as handwritten letters from impressionist masters Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.