A Pablo Picasso painting titled "Le Sauvetage," or "The Rescue," sold for $31.5 million at a New York auction on Wednesday, exceeding sales estimates. The 1932 painting -- a brightly colorful, abstract depiction of individuals on the seaside -- was part of a larger Sotheby's auction of Impressionist and modern art that included works by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse that brought in a total of $219 million, though many works failed to sell.
The Picasso piece had been expected to go for between $14 million and $18 million. A phone bidder made the successful purchase, Sotheby's said. The New York Times reported that the painting had belonged to Jerome Fisher, founder of the women's footwear company Nine West.
A Matisse painting titled "La Séance du Matin," or "The Morning Session," sold for $19.2 million, falling short of expectations. A Monet titled "Le Pont Japonais," or "The Japanese Bridge," went for $15.8 million to a collector from Asia, according to Sotheby's.
One of the highlights of the auction was the sale of an Alberto Giacometti sculpture depicting multiple figures. "La Place," which Sotheby's said was the artist's first multifigure sculpture, sold for $13 million. Four other Giacometti works also sold, including "Femme de Venise V," one of the artist's signature single figure sculptures.
The Wednesday sale was part of the spring auction season that will see a number of highly coveted works offered to potential buyers.