Bill Koch's Picasso Nude, Monet Water Lilies Fetch $101 Million

  • Billionaire's paintings were offered at Sotheby's sale
  • Sotheby's Impressionist, modern sale in New York continues

Billionaire William Koch’s paintings by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet tallied $101.3 million at Sotheby’s in New York, about 10 times what he paid for them.

Picasso’s "La Gommeuse"

Source: Estate of Pablo Picasso/ARS

The paintings were offered during the Impressionist and modern art evening auction on Thursday, the second day of a semiannual 10-day marathon targeting more than $2.1 billion in sales. The Sotheby’s auction is continuing.

Picasso’s “La Gommeuse,” created at the start of the artist’s “Blue Period” in 1901, fetched $67.5 million. It had been estimated at more than $60 million. Picasso was 19 when he painted the nude cabaret dancer with a pale face, red lips and black curls. There’s a second painting on the back of the canvas, an upside-down caricature of the artist’s friend and fellow Spaniard Pere Manach.

Koch bought the Picasso in 1984 for 1.4 million pounds, equivalent to about $1.7 million at the time, at Sotheby’s in London. Sotheby’s sold the work for the fourth time -- the first was in 1949 for $3,600.

The second Koch painting, Monet’s 1908 “Nympheas” depicts the artist’s famous pond studded with water lilies in Giverny, France. It fetched $33.9 million, within the estimated presale range of $30 million to $50 million. Koch bought it for $8.4 million at Sotheby’s in New York in 2000.

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