Rare Picasso expected to fetch $92m at auction

PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A rare Picasso believed to be a self-portrait created when the artist was under threat of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp is expected to fetch US$70 million (S$92 million) at auction, Christie's said.

The oil painting "Le Marin" depicts a sad-looking man dressed in a blue and white striped sailor's shirt sitting on a chair. "You have... a slightly dark sense around the picture. It's nervous, it's on edge and slightly gloomy," Mr Conor Jordan, the auction house's deputy chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art, said on Friday.

The painting shows the man resting his head against his right hand, while his legs are crossed with his left hand on his knee.

"That's a traditional symbol of melancholy," Mr Jordan added.

Created in 1943, during the Nazi occupation of France, the painting reflects the distress and anxiety of the Spanish painter who was under threat of being sent to a concentration camp.

Le Marin's last appearance was 21 years ago at an auction of works from the collection of New York art collectors Victor and Sally Ganz.

The painting is on view in Hong Kong until Tuesday. It will go under the hammer in New York on May 15.

Last November, a series of 100 Picasso etchings dealing with his erotic obsessions and marital strife, as well as 1930s political turmoil, sold for €1.9 million (S$3 million) in Paris.

Picasso's "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)" set a world record as the most expensive piece of art sold at auction when it fetched US$179.4 million at Christie's in New York in 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'Rare Picasso expected to fetch $92m at auction'. Print Edition | Subscribe