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One bright spot at Sotheby's: Steve Wynn's Picasso brings $41.5 million

November 09, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • A woman looks at a painting titled "Nature Morte Aux Tulipes" by Pablo Picasso during the Sotheby's auction press preview in Hong Kong.
A woman looks at a painting titled "Nature Morte Aux Tulipes"… (Vincent Yu / AP Photo )

Las Vegas titan Steve Wynn sold Picasso's 1932 painting "Still Life with Tulips" at Sotheby's on Thursday night for a robust sum of $41.5 million. 

The last time the work was sold publicly was in 2000 at Christie's New York, where it brought $28.6 million, but the winning bidder then was not believed to be Wynn.

INTERACTIVE: At the auction house - Guess the price

The painting--featuring a white, gold and green palette against a dark background--served as one of the few bright spots in Sotheby's sale of Impressionist and modern material in New York.

In a week marked by drops in the financial markets and disappointing sales (also lack of sales) at both of the big New York auction houses, Sotheby's auction on Thursday brought only $163 million, a few million dollars short of what the firm projected and $36 million less than last November's evening sale.

Still, Marie-Therese Walther remains the it-girl of the ultra-high-end art market. In his 1932 painting, "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," which set a record for the artist by selling for $106.5 million at Christie's, Picasso pictured her in a state of voluptuous repose, with green leaves in the background mimicking her curves and a Grecian bust nearby echoing her facial features. 

In "Still Life with Tulips" from the same feverish year, Picasso put a quasi-classical marble bust made in her image at the painting's center, giving it a sort of cartoonish gigantism familiar to fans of the artist.

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