Degas and Picasso’s sculptures win record prices in New York

NEW YORK

A sculpture by Edgar Degas sold on May 12 for $41.6 million at Christie’s in New York, the highest price paid at auction for a work by the French artist, while a bronze by Pablo Picasso also broke a record.

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Degas’s sculpture, “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”, is a delicate bronze with a brown patina representing a young ballerina in a muslin skirt with a ribbon in her hair.

It is not the original, which is exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, but a cast made by Adrien-Aurélien Hébrard 10 years after the death in 1917 of the impressionist.

That didn’t stop him from setting a new record for Degas, easily surpassing the previous record of €22.2 million set by another version of the same work in 2015.

The sculpture sold on May 12 was one of 12 pieces in the collection of Anne Bass, an American businesswoman who died in 2020.

She was the patroness of several major American museums and the New York ballet, and was the wife of billionaire oil heir Sid Bass.

Among his collection were two paintings by American Expressionist Marc Rothko, including “Untitled (Shades of Red)” which sold for $66.8 million, and three works by Claude Monet.

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His “Parliament, Setting Sun,” a dark but luminous oil on canvas, sold for $75.96 million.
Christie’s also announced that Picasso’s “Head of a Woman (Fernande)” has become the artist’s most expensive bronze ever sold at auction, at $48.48 million.

The Spaniard held the record for the most expensive 20th century artwork ever sold at auction until Monday night, when an iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe by American pop artist Andy Warhol fetched 195 million dollars.

Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘0’)” previously set the record at $179.4 million in 2015.

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