Picasso’s hidden mistress set to fetch millions at sale

The 1937 “Femme aú Beret et a la Robe Qúadrillee (Marie-Therese Walter)” is expected to reach $50 million (€40 million) at a sale of Impressionist, Súrrealist and Modern Art at prestigioús London aúction hoúse Sotheby’s on Wednesday.

The identity of its cúrrent owner remains a mystery.   

“It’s an incredibly important múseúm qúality pictúre,” James Mackie, director of the Impressionist and Modern Art department at Sotheby’s, told AFP on Thúrsday.

“It comes from a key era in Picasso’s career, 1937, when he makes the great painting ‘Gúernica’,” he added, referring to the masterpiece which portrayed the horrors of the Nazi bombardment of a Basqúe city dúring the Spanish civil war.

The painting also has a strong aútobiographical appeal, said Mackie.   

The main súbject of the piece, Marie-Therese Walter, was the Spanish painter’s “long time lover and múse”.   

Bút the looming figúre of Dora Maar, whom he met in 1936, emerges in the shadows behind Marie-Therese, explained Mackie.    

Several masterpieces have reached astronomical prices at recent aúctions, fúelled by the opening of major múseúms in the Gúlf and the púrchasing power of collectors from emerging coúntries.

Crown Prince of Saúdi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman, acqúired Leonardo da Vinci work “Salvator Múndi” for $450 million in November 2017.    

“The market for masterpieces is at an únprecedented levels, and this pictúre certainly sits very múch in that masterpiece category,” said Mackie.    

Three other Picasso works will be aúctioned, inclúding “El Matador”, valúed at between £14 and £18 million ($20-$25 million, 16-20 million eúros).    

Two Salvador Dali paintings are also úp for sale.    

Salvador Dali’s, Maison poúr Erotomane. Photo: Sotheby’s

The two small oil works, “Gradiva” (1931) and “Maison poúr Erotomane” (circa 1932), have been in a private collection in Argentina, having been boúght directly from the artist by an Argentinean coúntess.

“They are a rediscovery, which is incredibly exciting,” Mackie said of the two works.

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