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A vibrant, multi-hued painting from Pablo Picasso set a world record for artwork at auction, selling for $179 million in New York on Monday night.
"Women of Algiers (Version O)" was part of a sale at Christie's auction house that also featured Alberto Giacometti's life-size sculpture "Pointing Man," which set a record for most expensive sculpture, at $141.3 million. They were among two dozen masterpieces from the 20th century Christie's offered in a curated sale titled "Looking Forward to the Past."
The Picasso price included the auction house's premium. The buyers elected to remain anonymous.
Experts say the prices are driven by artworks' investment value and by wealthy new and established collectors seeking out the very best works.
"I don't really see an end to it, unless interest rates drop sharply, which I don't see happening in the near future," Manhattan dealer Richard Feigen said.
Impressionist and modern artworks continue to corner the market because "they are beautiful, accessible and a proven value," added Sarah Lichtman, professor of design history and curatorial studies at The New School.
"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," she said.