This report on the Picasso market by Colin Gleadell is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
The dearth of live auctions during lockdown, and especially the big Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary sales in New York and London has provided little public information on what is happening at the top for headline artists. (Though there have been some big private sales said to have been completed.) To take the most obvious—if there ever was an artist who could ride a downturn, it has to be Picasso. A current public perspective could start with Sotheby’s Picasso sale yesterday and lead to some heavyweight lots coming up in the summer—who is selling and how much for.
This week’s sale of sixty lower value works by Picasso ( i.e., prints, drawings and ceramics from £500 to 50,000,) from the collection of his granddaughter, Marina Picasso, whom he largely ignored during his lifetime, was the tenth such sale staged by Sotheby’s and highlighted the importance of provenance in the Picasso market.
Marina inherited some 10,000 works following the artist’s death in 1973 and, because of their uneasy relationship, has had no emotional attachment to them. Their sales, however, have helped to support her favored children’s charities, her own children and grandchildren, not to mention a comfortable personal lifestyle.
For 28 years, she sold through the Swiss dealer, Jan Krugier, and after his death in 2005 she turned to Sotheby’s. Her most valuable works have sold as single lots raising some £200 million, but the greatest quantity of work has been assembled in single owner sales of lower value material – raising an estimated £40 million. Most of the drawings were unsigned, relying on provenance and his tendency to inscribe dates precisely for authenticity.
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