Part of MGM Resorts’ sizable art collection, the pieces had long been a fixture at Picasso, a Michelin-starred French and Spanish eatery in the Bellagio that is inspired by its namesake’s life and work.
The collection — which includes paintings, works on paper and one ceramic work — has a combined top estimate of $104.2 million, according to Sotheby’s auction house, which is organizing the sale.
Picasso’s “Femme au béret rouge-orange” depicts the model Marie-Thérèse Walter. They began an affair in the late 1920s and had a child together. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby’s and MGM Resorts
“It’s an encyclopedic collection of Picasso’s work, featuring works from 1917 to 1969 — so virtually the duration of his entire career,” said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s chairman and worldwide head of sales for global fine art, over the phone. “It gives a beautifully comprehensive view of the incredible diversity and richness of his career.”
It will be the first time Las Vegas has hosted one of Sotheby’s marquee evening sales, which are typically held at the auction house’s New York headquarters.
A varied collection
Among the 11 works is “Femme au béret rouge-orange,” an oil painting of Marie-Thérèse Walter, a young French model with whom the artist had a years-long affair in the late 1920s and 1930s. Picasso’s extensive portraits of Walter, who was the mother of his daughter Maya, are marked by vivid colors and a sense of intimacy.
“You can see the integrated influences of the two muses at this time,” Lampley added.
“Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs,” a painting from 1942. During this period Picasso “painted with a really heavy application of paint, almost reminiscent of Van Gogh,” said Sotheby’s Brooke Lampley. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby’s and MGM Resorts
Other works in the sale include 1969’s “Buste d’homme,” a painting from Picasso’s late period that once hung behind the Las Vegas restaurant’s bar; “Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs,” a still-life painted during the Nazi occupation of Paris; and “Aiguière — Visage,” a white terracotta vessel he made in 1954.
A new location
The Picasso auction will be the “largest and most significant” fine art sale ever to take place in Las Vegas, according to Sotheby’s. The move is part of MGM’s attempts to reposition the city — known for gambling and entertainment — as “a broader art destination,” Lampley said.
The sale, from the corporate art collection of MGM Resorts, includes paintings, works on paper and this terracotta vessel. Credit: Courtesy Sotheby’s and MGM Resorts
In a press release, MGM said that auctioning off the Picasso works would help its goal of “deepening diversity and inclusion” within its art collection. Some of the proceeds will be invested back into the art market, according to Sotheby’s.
The resort group’s chief hospitality officer Ari Kastrati said in a statement: “We are committed to creating an even more inclusive collection that maintains the breadth of our existing portfolio while giving a greater voice to artists from under-represented communities.”
Top: “Buste d’homme” hanging behind the bar at Picasso, which opened in 1998.