Over the course of seven decades, Pablo Picasso maintained prolific periods of artistic output that cemented his status as the one of most coveted artists of all time. The modernist’s most prized paintings derive from various stages in his life: the early-career Rose and Blue periods and his groundbreaking experiments in Cubism, through his output in the years leading up to and during World War II up to the late 1960s, when he was already world famous.
Central to Picasso’s oeuvre are portraits of his various muses: Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot, and Jacqueline Roque, each of whom the artist had a series of complicated affairs. These portraits, which range from sensual to tormented, have become some of the most recognizable in art history.
In the years since his death in 1973, Picasso’s stature as an artist elevated to the highest ranks, with some of his works going for more than $100 million in public auctions and reportedly at even higher sums in private deals. Currently, he remains the top-grossing artist at auction worldwide, raking in $245 million across 3,400 lots in 2020 alone. “He is in many ways the gold standard of the art market,” said dealer Larry Gagosian in an interview with ARTnews. “I think he’ll remain that way for the foreseeable future.” Below, a look at the top auction sales of works by the Spanish master.