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article imagePicasso’s ‘The Absinthe Drinker’ auctioned for $51.2 million

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 23, 2010 in Entertainment
London - "The Absinthe Drinker", a famous painting from Pablo Picasso's Blue Period, a portrait of his friend the artist Angel Fernandez de Soto, was sold today at auction at Christie's in London for US$ 51.2-million.
The painting, also known as "Portrait d'Angel Fernández de Soto", was sold at an auction of Impressionist and Modern art that included other works by Picasso, as well as outstanding works by Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Magritte, Kandinsky and Rodin.
The money from the auction will go to the foundation of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who purchased the painting in 1995 for $ 29.2 million from the Stralem Collection.
In this work, Picasso shows his friend Angel Fernández de Soto sitting at a table with a large glass of absinthe, the favourite drink of many artists of the Belle Epoque, such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh.
The artist met Fernández de Soto in 1899 in the famous café Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona, at that time a meeting place for artists and bohemians. Picasso and Fernández de Soto twice shared artist studios in Barcelona, the second time in 1903, the same year in which he painted the portrait sold today in London.
The painting was to go on sale at Christie's in New York in November 2006, but the auction was suspended following a complaint from the heirs of banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The heirs of the banker claimed that the work had been forcefully sold in 1934 during the Nazi occupation to a German businessman, and demanded suspension of the sale.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation argued that the work had changed hands at least four times since 1934 and that the painting had been purchased in good faith from its previous owner.
Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie's Europe division has said: “This painting is one of the most important works of art to be offered at auction in decades".
The value of this sale exceeds the value of the auction held yesterday at the London headquarters of Sotheby's, where the "Self-Portrait with Palette" by Edouard Manet, dated between 1878 and 1879, was sold for $ 33.1 million , the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by the French artist.
More about Pablo picasso, Angel fernandez, Christies
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