Sotheby’s Adds $70 Million Picasso, Bacon Portraits of Lovers to November Sale

Sotheby’s today confirms that it has added works by Pablo Picassoand Francis Bacon to its November Evening Auctions in New York. The works both feature the artists’ lovers; both will appear at auction for the first time; and together they have upper estimates totaling $70 million.

Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of George Dyer” is estimated at hammer prices at $35 million to $45 million in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction on November 16. Pablo Picasso’s “Buste de femme au chapeau,” a portrait of his muse Marie-Thérèse with attributes of Dora Maar, is estimated at $18 million to $25 million in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on November 14.

The oil-on-canvas Bacon work, appearing in public for the first time in more than 50 years, dates from 1966. While there are more than 40 paintings featuring Dyer – the man with whom the artist had a passionate relationship after first encountering him breaking into his home in 1963 – works of this scale were reserved by Bacon for his major works. There are only five triptychs of Dyer, with two others in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Louisiana Museum of Art.

The Picasso was produced around the time of the death of the artist’s mother in 1939. The oil painting is an example of his Madonna-and-Magdalene dilemma while he was simultaneously involved with two of his greatest muses: Marie-Thérèse Walter and Dora Maar. The blonde hair and soft tone represents the former, the focus on the hat recalls the latter. The work stayed in Picasso’s personal collection until his death and was inherited by his daughter. It is being sold to benefit charitable organizations including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Auction houses are competing with each other for the biggest headline lots. Christie’s is to offer a work said to be the last Leonardo Da Vinci in private hands and Andy Warhol’s last project, put on show just weeks before his death: “Sixty Last Suppers” with estimates of $100 million and $75 million respectively. It also has a Fernand Léger painting said to be worth about $65 million plus Picasso’s “Femme Accroupie (Jacqueline)” coming up for its first auction with a forecast that it may sell for as much as $30 million.

Sotheby’s has already announced an icy Monet landscape estimated at as much as $25 million. It also is to offer a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting owned by Yoko Ono for 25 years, seen as fetching $9-12 million, partly to raise money for charity.

The Phillips sales on November 15-16 will have 250 lots. The evening sale is led by Peter Doig’s “Red House,” estimated at $18 million to $22 million. There are also works by Kline, Twombly, Hirst, Matisse, Picasso, Herrera, and Moore.

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