A Pablo Picasso canvas brought in $179.4 million at a Christie's sale in New York on Monday evening, breaking the world record for the most expensive piece of art sold at auction.
The painting, "Les Femmes d'Alger (Version O)," or "The Women from Algiers," dates from 1955 and depicts female courtesans striking provocative poses in the artist's signature Cubist style. Christie's didn't reveal the seller or buyer of the painting, except to say that it comes from a private European collection.
The auction house had estimated that the work would sell for around $140 million. The selling price of $179.4 million includes the buyer's premium that auction houses typically add on.
The previous world-record holder was a Francis Bacon triptych painting of Lucian Freud that brought in $142.4 million at an auction in 2013. The buyer of that piece was later revealed to be Elaine Wynn.
In all, Monday's auction, titled "Looking Forward to the Past," brought in a total of $705.9 million and featured 35 items. Another Picasso painting, "Buste de Femme (Femme a la Resille)," sold for $67.4 million, and a Monet canvas brought in $40.5 million.
The international art market has seen considerable growth in the last decade, fueled largely by the sales of postwar and contemporary art.
Christie's and Sotheby's have jostled for big-ticket items, though both have experienced internal turmoil with the announced departures late last year of the top executives at both companies.
Other top auction sales in recent years include an Edvard Munch "The Scream" canvas that brought in nearly $120 million at a Sotheby's sale in 2012, and a Picasso work from 1932 titled "Nude, Green, Leaves and Bust" that sold for $106.5 million at a Christie's auction in 2010.
The record set on Monday by the Picasso painting is only for art sold at auctions. Both auction houses conduct private sales of art that are believed to have exceeded the amount brought in by the Picasso. The details of those transactions aren't usually made public.