[private_subscriber][private_bundle]Since 2005, Picasso has grossed more than $1 billion at Christie’s and Sotheby’s Imp/ Mod auctions. As the rankings based on those sales reveal, Picasso outdoes the other top Imp/Mod artists by wide margins in value and volume (Fig. 7): He bests Monet, the artist with the second highest gross over the past five years, by 136% in total sales, and his number of lots sold is more than twice that of the category’s runner-up, Marc Chagall. Until this year, Picasso also reigned supreme in high price. Not only was his Dora Maar au chat the most expensive painting sold at auction between 2005 and 2009, but his Garçon à la pipe, which sold in 2004 for $104,168,000, held the record for the most expensive artwork ever auctioned until Giacometti’s L’Homme qui marche I brought $104,327,006 earlier this year. Since 2005, Picasso has contributed 14% of the total value sold at Imp/Mod sales, far more than any other single artist, although figures like Klimt and Monet also made notable contributions in 2006 and 2008 respectively (Fig. 8).
Although Picasso’s paintings market peaked early in 2006, (thanks to the aforementioned sale of Dora Maar), the subsequent decline of the high prices, total sales and average prices in his paintings market is not as severe as it appears (Fig. 9).
His average price for a painting was 19% higher last year than in 2005—not bad in the bear market of 2009—and so far this year, his paintings market is cruising. At the February Imp/Mod auctions, all four of his paintings sold, bringing an average of $6,216,546. Next week, Christie’s offers Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, a fresh-to-market Picasso from 1932. Estimated in excess of $80 million, the work has the potential to trip up Giacometti’s L’Homme qui marche I and bring a new high for Picasso.