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Christie's

A Stroke Of Good Fortune: Picasso Painting Sells For $179M

Pablo Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)" sold at auction for $179 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.

By Christine Slusser | May 12, 2015

This piece of art called "Women of Algiers (Version O)" by Pablo Picasso was sold Monday at auction house Christie's for an astonishing $179 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.

If Picasso were alive today, he'd probably be a very happy and very rich man. 

The previous record-holder was a work by Francis Bacon called "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," which was also sold at Christie's for about $142 million.

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For the Picasso work, the opening bid was for $100 million, and as The Wall Street Journal notes, the bidding competition was fierce: "[It] shot up quickly, with at least four telephone bidders competing. ... But as the price topped $145 million, the bidding war winnowed to a pair of telephone bidders."

The artwork was last up for auction 18 years ago. The winning bidder was anonymous.

But it may have been a good buy. In those 18 years, the painting appreciated in value. It sold for $31.9 million in 1997. Quartz did the math, showing "Women of Algiers (Version O)" sold this time around "for a compound annual growth rate of about 10%."

Cha ching. And as Time notes, the art was part of a 15-painting series, created in 1954 and 1955. So if you've been holding on to your piece of precious art, it could be a good time to sell.

A reporter for Time wrote, "Industry experts say art world prices are staying high as collectors see these top works as strong and lasting investments."

The piece was projected to bring in $140 million. Pretty sure Christie's isn't complaining it went above that. Picasso probably wouldn't have, either.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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