Picasso in Africa rakes it in

SECURITY was tight in the run-up to the first-ever auction of an original Picasso in Africa.

The piece went under the hammer at the Stephan Welz & Co auction in Con-stantia, Cape Town, last night. Au Cirque, a 1954 crayon drawing by the Spanish artist, had a reserve price of R3-million and attracted attention from local and interna-tional collectors and dealers. The Picasso, which depicts two men, a horse and a bare-breasted woman, eventually went for its R3-million asking price to an unidentified telephone bidder. Although the picture was not drawn in Picasso’s Cubist style for which he became famous, it was an investment, said painting specialist at the auction house, Gary Shean. “These types of works don’t go back into the market in a hurry. Very often a work will come back These types of works don’t go back into the market in a hurry into circulation once the person

[who bought it] has passed away and the kids come and say well this belongs to my mom and dad, it doesn’t have much meaning for me let’s sell it to buy a house,” said Shean. He said that the previous owner was a Cape Town man who bought the artwork for $240 000 at an auc-tion in New York in 2006. He noted that “big names” in the industry were at the auction but would not reveal who they were, as the company was committed to keeping potential buyers anonymous. Shean said the artwork’s value in Europe was about R4.2-million. Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger sold for $179.4-mil-lion at a Christie’s auction last year — the highest price ever paid for an artwork at an auction. Picasso in Africa rakes it in ARON HYMAN WHAT AM I BID? Anton Welz adjusts the drawing ‘Au Cirque’, by Pablo Picasso. The drawing was auctioned in Cape Town


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