This June, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is sending a “Blue Period” Picasso canvas under the gavel. The painting is of an absinthe drinker, and Webber has chosen Christie’s as the auction house, with the proceeds going to Webber’s charity. The Picasso might sell for as much as $60.9 million, making it a higher estimate than any other piece in Europe so far this year. According to Artprice, last year Picasso was the top seller at auction, generating $121 million in sales.
The painting is entitled “Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto (The Absinthe Drinker),” and is a study of a young Spanish artist sitting at a Barcelona bar. Says Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of Christie’s London-based Impressionist and Modern department to Bloomberg News, “A ‘Blue Period’ Picasso is the sort of painting that could appeal to a new Chinese buyer.” She continues, “There is a new breed of Medici-style collectors who want to buy exceptional art from any period.”
Lloyd Weber purchased the painting for $29.2 million in 1995 for his foundation using funds he donated. The painting almost went up for sale at Christie’s in 2006 but was withdrawn at the last minute due to some issues over ownership; a German man claimed that the painting was lost by his family in a “forced sale” by Nazis but with all issues resolved the painting is now up for sale again.