Eleven pieces of artwork by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso which have been displayed in the hotel's restaurant for over two decades have been sold at auction ..
Coinciding with Pablo Picasso’s 140th birthday in October, MGM Resorts and Sotheby’s presented a special, first-of-its-kind marquee evening sale of masterworks by the iconic artist from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection. The auction of works by Picasso, which was conducted live from the luxurious Bellagio Resort.
Featuring 11 works that showcase the range and breadth of Pablo Picasso’s celebrated career, the auction includes a highly curated selection of paintings, works on paper, and ceramics that span more than 50 years of artistic output from 1917 to 1969. The auction's pièce de résistance Femme au béret rouge-orange , one of Picasso’s defining portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter, the artist’s famed muse and lover who inspired many of his most revered and iconic portraits of the 1930s, which was initially expected to sell between US$20 million and US$30 million eventually sold for US$40 million.
Executed in 1938, the present painting is one the artist’s final works capturing Marie-Thérèse, and marks a pivotal time after Picasso met the photographer Dora Maar, whose visage slowly began to eclipse that of Marie-Thérèse in his work. Picasso’s deeply autobiographical portraits from this period reveal characteristics of both women, and reinforce how exceedingly rare paintings of Marie-Thérèse are from this year. Adorned with her signature beret, Picasso’s tender portrait uses a yellow and green palette to accentuate Marie-Thérèse’s rounded features, which are characteristic of Picasso’s portrayals of her, and further highlights how much the artist coveted this highly personal painting, which he kept in his private collection for decades.
Two further exquisite large-scale portraits emblematic of the artist’s late period works: Homme et enfant (sold for US$24.4 million) and Buste d’homme ( sold for US$9.456 million). Painted during one of the most inspired and productive periods of the artist’s life, from January 5, 1969 to February 2, 1970, both works were included in the monumental 1970 exhibition at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, arguably the most important exhibition of his late career. Each painting displays Picasso’s meditation on his artistic legacy, both from a personal and art historical perspective, and showcases the artist continuing to refine his mastery of portraiture in his final years of work.
Among the largest paintings ever executed by Picasso, Homme et enfant encapsulates the artist’s preoccupation with his life and legacy during this late period of his career. The two figures in the painting, a man and child, are symbols of Picasso’s artistic legacy as both a younger man and an artist working toward the end of his career, as well as his legacy as a father. Related to his Mousquetaires series, Buste d’homme reflects on the artistic and thematic influence of Old Masters like Velazquez and Rembrandt, in which Picasso aligns himself with the monumental painters of history.
Also included in the sale was Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs, an outstanding, museum-quality still life painted by Picasso during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1942. While Picasso was barred from exhibiting his work during this time, until the historic 1944 Salon d’Automne, also known as the Salon de la Libération, he remained as prolific as ever. Without the opportunity to present his work publicly, Picasso’s experience during the occupation caused him to look inward and meditate on life and death during wartime, and his output showcased bold stylistic choices of muted tones and graphic Cubist-inspired lines that reflected his introspection. This period is considered one of the greatest and most focused of Picasso’s renowned still lifes, comparable only to his earlier Cubist period. It was sold for US$16.6 million
“It’s an honor to collaborate with Sotheby’s to bring this first-of-its-kind art and entertainment experience to Las Vegas and embark on this momentous auction,” said Ari Kastrati, MGM Resorts’ Chief Hospitality Officer. “We welcome millions of visitors from around the world annually throughout our resorts, giving us a tremendous platform for showcasing diverse perspectives within the art community. While diversity has long been in MGM Resorts’ DNA, we are committed to creating an even more inclusive collection that maintains the breadth of our existing portfolio while giving a greater voice to artists from under-represented communities.”
The stunning collection which was started more than 20 years ago by Steve Wynn, the former owner of Bellagio Hotel was sold as part of an effort by the hotel to add more works by women, minority artists and those from emerging countries to the collection.