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Nude Picasso drawing sells for $254,500 at auction

Picasso’s Trois nus féminins was completed in 1923 while he was visiting the resort of Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera.

A Picasso drawing of three nude females held by an anonymous Edmonton collector for more than a half-century sold at auction in New York Monday for $254,500 (U.S.), including buyer's premium.

Trois nus féminins, completed in 1923 by the Spanish master while visiting the resort of Cap d'Antibes on the French Riviera, went into bidding at Bonhams auction house with a pre-sale estimate of $220,000-$280,000 (U.S.), exclusive of premium. (Bonhams levies a commission of 25 per cent on the first $50,000 of a work's hammer price, 20 per cent on the balance.)

The drawing, a pencil, charcoal and brown-red chalk study done on paper in a neo-classical style, charcoal and brown-red chalk on paper, was the star performer at Bonhams' afternoon sale of 80 lots of Impressionist and modern art. While not a record for a Picasso drawing on paper – Sotheby's New York is expected to set that this week when it sells a 1940 drawing, The Rape, estimated at $4- to $6-million (U.S.) – Trois nus féminins demonstrates the health of seeming all facets of the Picasso resale market.

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The 35.5cm-by-26.5cm work was purchased by the Edmonton collector around 1955 from New York's Saidenberg Gallery, which served as Picasso's primary U.S. representative from the mid-1950s until 1973, the year of the artist's death, at 91. Previously, the drawing had been owned, on separate occasions, by two early British champions of Picasso, Gerald Barry and Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole. The drawing was inherited from the Edmonton collector by what Bonhams terms "an important private Canadian collection" in 2011.

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