Picasso reels in $31.5M at auction

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

NEW YORK — Pablo Picasso's 1932 painting “Le Sauvetage” sold for $31.5 million on Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York, trouncing the presale estimate of $14 million to $18 million in a bidding war.

Four bidders competed for the Spanish artist's signed work showing several flowing figures, which brought $14.8 million at auction 10 years ago.

A 1924 painting by Henri Matisse sold for $19.2 million, falling short of the estimated range of $20 million to $30 million.

The evening auction of Impressionist and modern art was expected to tally $218.1 million to $317.9 million. Christie's Impressionist and modern art evening sale totaled $286 million on Tuesday, kicking off two weeks of semiannual sales of Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary works in the city.

Matisse's small, light-saturated canvas, “La Seance du Matin (Morning Session),” depicts the artist's assistant Henriette Darricarrere painting in a yellow striped robe. A blue strip of the Mediterranean Sea is visible through a window.

Claude Monet's 1882 painting “Sur la Falaise a Pourville” (“On the Cliff at Pourville”), consigned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, sold for $8.2 million, including the buyer's premium. One of the first major Impressionist landscapes to arrive in the United States, it had been estimated by Sotheby's at $5 million to $7 million.

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