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Pablo Picasso's 1932 oil-on-canvas "Nature morte aux tulipes," a portrait of Picasso's mistress Marie-Therese Walter  

Modern art sale grosses nearly $73 million at Christie's

May 10, 2000
Web posted at: 1:59 AM EDT (0559 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Led by paintings by Pablo Picasso, Christie's spring auction of 20th century art has grossed $72.9 million.

The auction house sold 34 paintings and sculptures on Tuesday evening, in its semi-annual modern art sale, with 15 items fetching more than $1 million, with commissions.

The four highest-priced works were by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The top seller by far was his "Still Life With Tulips" (1939), really a portrait of his Parisian lover Marie-Terese Walter done in 1932. The bidding started at $15 million and after just one-minute-and 40-seconds topped off at $26 million.

The final price, with commissions, was $28.6 million, the 10th-highest price ever paid for a Picasso at auction, according to Christie's.

Final prices at Christie's are the price announced at gavel plus a commission of 17.5 percent on the first $80,000 and 10 percent on any amount above that.

The second-highest price of the night was $4.7 million paid for Picasso's "Bust of a Woman Seated in a Chair," a surrealistic-influenced portrait of his wartime mistress, Dora Maar, painted in 1939.

A charcoal-on-paper 1935 drawing of a nude by Henri Matisse sold for $2.7 million, a world auction record for a drawing by the artist.

Eight works did not receive the minimum bids promised to the sellers and therefore did not sell. Most notable of these was Andy Warhol's "Liz," a 1963 silk screen panel of actress Elizabeth Taylor. Bids reached $1.2 million, not enough to make a sale. But three other Warhol pieces did sell, including a panel of 40 $2-bills, which went for over $1 million.

Other artists whose works reached the seven-figures were Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Amedeo Modigliani, and Cy Twombly.

"I am absolutely delighted in the results of the last couple of days. Our sales this year have been very strong throughout the year," said Christie's CEO Edward Dolman.

Its sales on Monday and Tuesday, which grossed more than $200 million, were the first major art auctions since a federal investigation into Christie's and rival Sotheby's for alleged price fixing and collusion became public.



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