A couple of days ago, at Sotheby’s auction in London, a Pablo Picasso painting exceeded everyone’s expectations when it fetched £25.2 million (or some $40.7 million). La Lecture – that’s the name of the painting – shows Picasso’s 17-year-old lover, Marie-Therese Walter, sleeping in an armchair with a book in her lap. The piece was first thought to sell for half the price it did last Tuesday.
La Lecture is special both for its artistic value and for the story behind it. When Marie-Therese and Pablo Picasso met in 1927, the artist was 45 and married. Their relationship remained a secret for years, during which time Picasso painted a series of pictures that represented the young lady in various coded ways. After a while, the painter’s wife, Olga, realized that the facial traits of the portraits were not hers and soon afterwards their marriage ended.
Sotheby’s sais there were at least seven bidders that fought over the precious picture, and the winning one remains anonymous. The auction house was very satisfied with the sell, as they initially estimated the painting to go for about £12-18 million.