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Picasso masterpiece begins pre-auction tour in Dubai

A visitor looks at Pablo Picasso's painting 'Femme a la montre' displayed for viewing at Sotheby’s Dubai, ahead of an auction in New York
A visitor looks at Pablo Picasso's painting 'Femme a la montre' displayed for viewing at Sotheby’s Dubai, ahead of an auction in New York - Copyright AFP Giuseppe CACACE
A visitor looks at Pablo Picasso's painting 'Femme a la montre' displayed for viewing at Sotheby’s Dubai, ahead of an auction in New York - Copyright AFP Giuseppe CACACE

A Pablo Picasso masterpiece expected to fetch at least $120 million at auction went on show Monday in Dubai, kicking off a set of rare viewings outside the United States.

The 1932 portrait of Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s mistress and “golden muse”, is being exhibited for two days before heading to Hong Kong and London, a boon for the United Arab Emirates’ bid to establish itself as a cultural powerhouse. 

The viewing “marks the first time a painting of this calibre by the world-renowned artist has ever been exhibited in the UAE”, Sotheby’s Dubai said in a statement, noting it is the first time the portrait had been shown outside the US in half a century. 

“Over the years the UAE has earned the status of being a global art destination, which receives a further boost as this rare Picasso is unveiled here,” said UAE Culture Minister Sheikh Salem bin Khalid al-Qassimi. 

The painting titled “Femme a la montre” will be sold in November as part of a two-day auction of late New Yorker Emily Fisher Landau’s prestigious collection. 

Walter met Picasso in Paris in 1927, when the Spaniard was still married to Russian-Ukrainian ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova, and while Walter was 17. 

Walter, whose daughter with Picasso passed away last year, was also featured in “Femme assise pres d’une fenetre (Marie-Therese)”, which sold in 2021 for $103.4 million by Christie’s auction house.

Fifty years after his death in 1973 at age 91, Picasso remains one of the most influential artists of the modern world, often hailed as a dynamic and creative genius. 

But in the wake of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault, the reputation of this workaholic with a vast output of paintings, sketches and sculpture has been tarnished by accusations he exerted a violent hold over the women who shared his life and inspired his art.

AFP
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