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Picasso’s Long Ago Gift to A Muse Kept On Growing

A collection of 1950s sketches and prints by Pablo Picasso was auctioned on June 27 by Artcurial, Paris, at the Hotel Dassault. The ensemble of works, which Picasso had given to his mistress and muse the poet Genevieve LaPorte, fetched €1.54 million ($1.9 million).

PARIS—A collection of 1950s sketches and prints by Pablo Picasso was auctioned on June 27 by Artcurial, Paris, at the Hotel Dassault. The ensemble of works, which Picasso had given to his mistress and muse the poet Genevieve LaPorte, fetched €1.54 million ($1.9 million).

The highest-priced work was a drawing, Odalisque, 1951, which was acquired for the Picasso Museum in Paris by the French government for €410,000, ($496,100), more than twice the high estimate of €180,000.

Another sketch, Le Songe, fell to a foreign collector for €360,000 ($435,600)—more than double its €160,000 high estimate.

In all, the total received for the lots—18 sketches, engravings and a pendant—remained within the €1.5 /2 million preauction estimates. LaPorte indicated that proceeds from the auction at Artcurial would be used to create a foundation dedicated to animal welfare and protection.

Now 78 years old, LaPorte explained that the works had been created during her brief love affair with Picasso. She called the works “love letters” and expressed some ambivalence about selling them. “I just hope that the drawings are purchased by someone who loves them as much as I do,” she stated in a recent interview with the Agence France-Presse.

LaPorte first met Picasso in 1944, when as a 17-year-old student writer she interviewed the then 63-year-old painter. They became lovers in 1951 and remained involved for two years; during that time they traveled to the French Riviera, where Picasso made the drawings just sold by LaPorte at auction.

Although she later refused Picasso’s request that they live together, LaPorte said, she remembers their relationship with fondness. The drawings depict her variously as a member of a harem, a bride, a sphinx, and herself, wearing only a sailor’s shirt.

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