Degas, Picasso sculptures break records at US auction

The French artist's bronze sold for $41.6 million at Christie’s in New York


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Published: Fri 13 May 2022, 8:07 AM

Last updated: Fri 13 May 2022, 8:12 AM

A sculpture by Edgar Degas sold Thursday for $41.6 million at Christie’s in New York, the highest price paid at auction for a work by the French artist, while a bronze by Pablo Picasso also broke a record.

The Degas sculpture — “Petite danseuse de quatorze ans” — is a delicate bronze with a brown patina depicting a young ballerina in a muslin skirt with a ribbon in her hair.

It is not the original — which is on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington — but a cast made by Adrien-Aurelien Hebrard 10 years after the 1917 death of the impressionist.

That did not stop it from setting a new record for Degas, easily topping the previous high of 22.2 million euros set by another version of the same work in 2015.

The sculpture that sold on Thursday was one of 12 pieces from the collection of Anne Bass, an American businesswoman who died in 2020.

She was the patron of several major American museums and the New York ballet, and was the wife of billionaire oil heir Sid Bass.

Among her collection were two paintings by American expressionist Marc Rothko, of which “Untitled (Shades of red)” sold for $66.8 million, and three works by Claude Monet.


His “Parlement, soleil couchant,” a dark but luminous oil on canvas, sold for $75.96 million.

Christie’s also announced that Picasso’s “Tete de femme (Fernande)” became the artist’s most expensive bronze ever sold at auction, at $48.48 million.

The Spaniard held the record for the most expensive work of 20th Century artwork ever sold at auction until Monday night, when an iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe by American pop artist Andy Warhol brought in $195 million.

Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘0’)” had previously set the record at $179.4 million in 2015.

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