Hardly a week goes by that one new record or another is not breathlessly announced in the art world, as in late June when it was reported an all-time high had been set at a Sotheby’s auction for a cubist painting, daubed by Pablo Picasso in 1909. The tidy sum of $63.7 million was paid for a canvas entitled “Femme Assise” that last traded hands in 1973 for about $500,000, adjusted for inflation.
For the curious, the overall record for a Picasso was set in 2015 with the 1955 painting “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” parted with for a mere $179.4 million at a Christie’s gavel-pounder. The all-time record for any canvas is about $300 million, the amount fetched for Paul Gauguin’s 1892 work “When Will You Marry,” and also for “Interchange” by Willem de Kooning, 1955; both sold in 2015.
For sellers, if not buyers of fine art, 2015 was a very good year.
But despite the boodles of lucre being tossed about for famous-name art, niche investi