Picasso’s ‘Au Lapin Agile’ Auctioned for $40 Million

From Associated Press

A scene in a Parisian tavern that Pablo Picasso painted when he was 25 in exchange for free meals and drinks sold for $40.7 million at auction Wednesday.

The 1905 painting “Au Lapin Agile,” in which Picasso depicts himself as a harlequin, is “the most important 20th-Century picture to come up for auction,” said John L. Marion, chairman of Sotheby’s North America.

“It goes to the Annenburg Collection,” Marion said as he hammered down the sale. Sotheby’s had predicted the work would fetch $35 million to $40 million.


The painting was consigned by Linda de Roulet, daughter of art collector Joan Whitney Payson, who acquired it in 1952 and hung it in her Manhasset home. De Roulet said in a statement she felt “Au Lapin Agile” has become too valuable a painting to keep.

The Sotheby’s sale of 74 paintings and sculptures came on the heels of a $232.4-million auction Tuesday at Christie’s gallery, the highest total in history for a single-session art sale.

The top price in Christie’s sale was $26.4 million for Edouard Manet’s “Rue Mosnier, Paris, Decorated with Flags on June 30, 1878,” sold to the Getty Museum of Malibu. Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Trunk of an Old Yew Tree, Arles” brought $20.3 million.

“Au Lapin Agile” was painted four years after another famous self-portrait, “Yo Picasso,” which sold for $47.85 million at Sotheby’s in May. That was a record for the artist and more than double its presale estimate.

The record for any work of art--$53.9 million--was set in 1987 for Van Gogh’s “Irises,” also from the Payson collection.