A painting of scantily clad women by Spanish painter Pablo Picasso just shows why the power of women should never be underestimated particularly when they are depicted in art.
The painting, known as "Les femmes d'Alger, Version O" or "The Women of Algiers," sold for $179.37 million at a Christie's auction in New York on Monday, breaking the record as it became the highest priced piece of art sold at an auction.
The masterpiece, which depicted female courtesans who strike provocative poses in the famed painter's signature Cubist style, was completed as part of Picasso's 1954-1955 series. "Les femmes d'Alger" was considered a homage to contemporary artist Henri Matisse and is Picasso's final work of the 15-work series.
The artwork was originally valued at $140 million, or $34 million more than the most expensive Picasso painting sold. In 2010, Christie's sold "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" for about $106.5 million.
Christie's did not reveal who the seller or buyer of the painting was but acknowledged that it comes from a private collection in Europe. The painting was once owned by American collectors Victor and Sally Ganz and has already appeared in a number of major museum retrospective of the famed Spanish painter.
Prior to the sale of the painting, the highest priced artwork that was sold at an auction had been the "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" by Francis Bacon, which fetched $142.4 million in 2013.
Picasso's artwork and Alberto Giacometti's "Pointing Man," which also set a record as the most expensive sculpture at a price of $141.3 million were part of Christie's curated sale "Looking Forward to the Past."
"New world auction records were set for 10 works of art during the sale, including Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger, Version O from 1955, which sold for $179,365,000 (£116,395,198/€160,276,188), and became the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction," Christie's said in a statement. "All of the works offered in Looking Forward to the Past were selected for their connection to a central theme of artistic innovation inspired by the past."
The experts said that the prices of the artworks were driven by their investment value. Wealthy collectors also look for the very best works.
"I think we will continue to see the financiers seeking these works out as they would a blue chip company that pays reliable dividends for years to come," said Sarah Lichtman, The New School professor of design history and curatorial studies.