The Picasso art collection of former casino boss Steve Wynn saw a successful auction by Sotheby’s over the weekend – fetching over $109 million.
The high-profile auction was held at the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas. When the resorts acquired the Mirage Casino in 2000, its art collection came along in the $4.4 billion deal. Steve Wynn, the owner of the casino, had stepped down in 2018 amidst sexual harassment allegations. His art collection famously boasted of many Picasso paintings, many of which once hung at the Bellagio restaurant.
The 11 Picasso works went for auction on Saturday in a pop-up salesroom set up by Sotheby’s. The works had a combined pre-sale estimate of $100 million. By the end of the auction, which lasted just a few hours, all works had been sold for a total of $109 million. This was a white glove moment – where all objects on the auction block are sold.
The highest price in the lot was fetched by Femme au béret rouge-orange (1938) which fetched $40.5 million. The sale was headed by auctioneer Oliver Barker. Barker opened most of the works at a low bid of $10,000. La Fenêtre de l’atelier La Californie (1956), the opening work of the auction, fetched $214,200 – much higher than its low-ball estimate. Most works saw intense bidding, with many seeing more than 20 bids.
MGM Resorts had been renovating its public art portfolio, and the auction served as a platform to highlight it. The sale marked the most high-profile sale not just for MGM, but Las Vegas in general. Coincidentally, the day of the sale also marked the 140th birthday of Picasso.