This article was first published on Apollo magazine’s blog
Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) was the star lot at Christie’s ‘Looking Forward to the Past’ sale on 11 May, smashing the record for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.
What else could you have paid for with $179.4 million in the art world?
1) Three 5-year renovations of the Picasso Museum in Paris (at €52 million a pop).
2) At least 252 versions of the painting that fetched the lowest price in the ‘Looking Forward to the Past’ auction; Francis Picabia’s Sans Titre (Visage de Femme) (price realised: $701,000).
3) More than 42% of the new Whitney Museum building in New York, which cost $422 million.
4) 1,204 of Picasso’s Nature Morte Sous La Lampe linocuts, one of which sold for $149,000 at Christie’s New York’s Prints and Multiples sale in April 2015 (edition of 50).
5) 4 ½ years of government grant-in-aid for the National Gallery in London (at 2013–14 levels).
6) 26% more Bacon: Three Studies of Lucian Freud sold for $142million in November 2013. Almost a fourth panel, but not quite.
7) 8,229,350 tickets to ‘Picasso and Modern British Art’ at Tate Britain in 2012, the last time Les Femmes d’Algers (Version ‘O’) was publicly exhibited.
8) 7,176 tickets to the annual Met Gala (capacity 650–700).
9) 4,046,008 shares in Sotheby’s when trading closed on 11 May.
10) Or 285,214 round-trips from New York to Algiers…
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