Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger could set a new auction record

Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger could become the world's most valuable painting ever sold at auction, at Christie's New York on May 11.

It's expected to make around $140m.

Picasso Algiers Christies
The painting was inspired by the work of Picasso's recently departed friend Matisse

The current record for a painting at auction stands at $142.4m, set for Francis Bacon's Three Studies for a Portrait of Lucian Freud in 2013.

Olivier Camu, Christie's deputy chairman of impressionist and modern art, commented:  "Les femmes d'Alger, (Version "O") is the culmination of a herculean project which Picasso started after Matisse's death, in homage to his lost friend and competitor, and which over a period of 2 months and after nearly 100 studies on paper and 14 other paintings led to the creation of this phenomenal canvas in February 1955.

"With its packed composition, play on cubism and perspective, its violent colors, and its brilliant synthesis of Picasso's lifelong obsessions, it is a milestone in Picasso's oeuvre and one of his most famous masterpieces, together with Les demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907 and Guernica, 1937.

"One can arguably say that this is the single most important painting by Picasso to remain in private hands. Its sale on 11 May will be a watershed moment in the market for 20th century art."

The auction record for a Picasso was set in 2004 for Garcon a la Pipe, which made $104.2m. Le Reve remains his most valuable painting, having achieved $155m in a private sale in 2013.   

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