$177m Picasso works sold in ‘crazy’ US art auction

The price of a Picasso painting still keeps coming up in high-end art auctions, with an estimated $106.5m Picasso work selling this week for its second-highest ever price at Christie’s New York auction.

The double-pronged sell-off of approximately $676m (£517m) of art and antiques took place Saturday evening as part of the estate of art collector John Paul Getty III’s mother, offered as part of a pre-arranged divorce settlement with fellow billionaire, oil tycoon, and Getty III’s aunt, J. Paul Getty.

The sale of assorted jewelry, furniture, jewelry, perfume, and wood and porcelain items was part of the settlement that centred on Getty III’s interests in the Picasso work Demoiselles d’Avignon – with just one small component – the painting, which went for $179m.

The sale price for Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon at the James Cohan auction house is estimated to be a record for the artist and the highest price paid for a work of art at auction.

The estimated US sale price for that work has been the subject of talk in the art world since it was disclosed last December.

The estimated sales price ($156m to $209m) was first reported by the New York Post after Christie’s claimed that the oil tycoon’s, Picasso’s work had sold twice at auction before – at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 – for prices that were, at the time, “tragicly low.”

In 2009, $132m for an unproven piece of art by Picasso went for a new record at the Christie’s auction house in New York. The work by Alberto Giacometti titled Woman sitting on stool. In 2010, a Picasso cow turned out to be the U.S. government’s most famous artwork.

But as it did in 2010, in 2013, and 2017 – when $155m and $170m were paid at Christie’s for paintings by the artist respectively – the art world was dominated this time by two works that will likely sell for even more.

In the end, however, the “really crazy” auction offered only one “brilliant and tremendous” piece, Walker said.

“I wouldn’t say it sold off, but it was really crazy,” he said of the Christie’s auction house auction.

John Paul Getty III was only nine years old when his father claimed him as a kidnapping victim, leaving him in the care of his mother, Gail Harris Getty.

After the man wanted for the abduction – Christopher Petty – paid $2.2m in ransom, Christopher Paul Getty Jr and his wife convinced Gail Harris Getty to abandon John Paul Getty III in South Africa, and instead return to the United States.

The deal left John Paul Getty III, then in his teens, and his brother, Bruce, to run the Getty oil empire.

Appalled at how the kidnapping had been handled, the Getty’s deranged, deaf, and delusional adoptive father had shot Gail Harris Getty and committed suicide – choosing a back-door entrance to his own childhood house so he couldn’t be found.

After that, lawsuits followed over the handover of his grandson and reports that he used the teen as a slave, driving him to him around the globe and making demands that, in the end, involved repairing his broken head.

The most recent auction of art, furniture, and jewellery came after both John Paul Getty III and his father met with surrogate female surrogate mother Gail Harris Getty, and shared custody.

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