MGM Resorts is planning to sell 11 Picassos worth an estimated $104 million.
The sale, which will be conducted by Sotheby’s at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, will include paintings, works on paper and ceramics. It comes as the international hospitality company is looking to develop and diversify its impressive art collection, by including more works by women and people of colour.
“Our collection has evolved over time,” said Ari Kastrati, chief hospitality officer of MGM Resorts. “Our goal with our collection has always been to evolve it further, and focus on diversity, and give voice to under-represented artists. We’ve done a great job with that over the years, and we believe now is a time to double down on it.”
The top lot of the auction on October 23 is expected to be Picasso’s 1938 painting Femme au beret rouge-orange, which depicts the artist’s lover and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, and carries an estimate of $20 million to $30 million. The painting was acquired in the late 1990s, under Bellagio founder Steve Wynn, a notable art collector.
The painting spent many years hanging alongside other works by the artist on the walls of the Bellagio’s aptly named Picasso restaurant. The 1969 painting Buste d’homme, estimated to sell for between $10m and $15m, hung behind the restaurant’s bar; and the large-scale Homme et enfant (1969), which is estimated to sell for between $20m and $30m, hung over a sideboard in the restaurant’s lounge.
Also part of the sale are a handful of relatively lower-priced lots, including a white terracotta pitcher from 1954, worth an estimated $60,000 to $80,000; and Tete d’Homme, a gouache on paper from 1967 that carries valuation of $1.5m to $2m.
Fortunately, the Picasso restaurant won’t be left with bare walls. There are another 12 artworks by Picasso in the MGM fine art collection, some of which will be used to replace the artworks that sell.