Picasso’s $115-million ‘Young Girl’ to be loaned to Paris museum

Picasso's "Young Girl With Basket of Flowers," recently sold at a New York auction for $115 million, will be loaned to Paris's Musee d'Orsay for a Picasso exhibit opening in September.

Picasso's $115-million 'Young Girl' to be loaned to Paris museum
"Young Girl With Basket of Flowers" by Pablo Picasso on display during a Christie's preview. Photo: AFP

“We're very happy,” a museum spokesperson said Saturday in confirming the loan, first reported in The New York Times.

The painting was purchased at auction Tuesday by the Nahmads, a family of art dealers and collectors that includes Helly Nahmad, owner of a New York gallery, according to two sources quoted by the Times. Nahmad did not respond to an AFP request, through his gallery, for comment.

The Musee d'Orsay's “Picasso: Blue and Rose” exhibit is being organized in collaboration with the Picasso Museum-Paris and will focus on the artist's work from 1900-1906, encompassing his critically important Blue Period and Rose Period. It will run from September 18th to January 6th, 2019.

The exhibit will then move to the Beyeler Foundation near Basel, Switzerland, from February 3rd to May 26th, with a modified set of paintings. It is not clear whether the “Young Girl” will be part of that show.

The painting, from 1905, was part of a major auction by Christie's of the extensive collection of the late US banker David Rockefeller and his wife Peggy.

“Young Girl,” which the American collector Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo had purchased directly from the artist, was sold for the sixth-highest sum ever attained by a painting at auction, expenses and commissions included.

Four paintings by Picasso (1881-1973) have now been sold for more than $100 million each. No other painter has seen more than one piece of art reach that rarefied level.

Rockefeller, who died last year aged 101, was a grandson of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. “Young Girl” was a centrepiece of his vast trove of artworks.

The Christie's sale brought in a total of $832 million, pulverizing the record for a single collection sale set in 2009, when the works of designer Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime partner Pierre Berge netted $484 million.

READ ALSO: Picasso's French Riviera mansion set to sell for 'bargain' €20 million

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Picasso’s French Riviera mansion set to sell for ‘bargain’ €20 million

Picasso's mansion on the French Riviera - where his last wife tragically shot herself - is expected to be sold for more than 20 million euros ($24 million) at an auction on Thursday.

Picasso's French Riviera mansion set to sell for 'bargain' €20 million
Photo: AFP

The artist spent his twilight years on the estate at Mougins in the hills near Cannes, dying there in April 1973, 12 years after moving there with his muse and second wife Jacqueline Roque.

Roque — who Picasso painted more than 400 times, but who feuded with his children after his death — killed herself at the house overlooking the Mediterranean in 1986.

Her daughter Catherine Hutin-Blay sold the estate on to a Dutch owner, who renamed it the “Cavern of the Minotaur” after the painter's obsession with the mythical beast.

Before Picasso the house had belonged to the Anglo-Irish Guinness brewing family. Wartime British prime minister Winston Churchill, a keen amateur artist, was a frequent visitor, painting in the grounds.

The Dutch owner got into financial difficulty after carrying out extensive work on the property, which dates from the 18th century, and its three hectares of grounds.

Maxime Van Rolleghem, a lawyer for the former owner's creditors, Achmea Bank, said the house was “a bargain… A lot of luxury villas on the Cote d'Azur are worth a great deal more than this.”


He said the previous owner had wanted 170 million euros for the estate after hugely expanding the house, adding a large pool, garages and a tennis court.

But work had stopped when his money ran out.

Van Rolleghem told AFP that a Sri Lankan financier Rayo Withanage had put an offer of 20.1 million euros on the house in June, but “he hadn't yet got together the funds” to complete the transaction.

He said if the house does not go for more than 20.1 million euros on Thursday — when it will be sold under the eyes of a judge at the courthouse of nearby Grasse, Withanage — the managing partner of the Scepter Partners merchant bank, will get a further two months to pay.

These kind of houses “do not sell like a jar of Nutella”, Van Rolleghem added.

During Picasso's time the house was more rundown than it is now, with large bay windows added later to its rustic facade to take in the view.

“From Picasso's period the only original room that is left is his studio, which still has traces of the paint left by the artist,” said estate agent Michael Zingraf.

“None of his work remains in the house,” he added.