Picasso sells for $6.5 million

June 20, 2008 7:33:44 AM PDT
A Picasso painting has sold in Sydney for $6.5 million, making it the most expensive piece of art to ever be auctioned in Australia.The brightly colored abstract "Sylvette," painted in 1954, was sold Wednesday night at Deutscher-Menzies Galleries.

After a brief bidding war between two phone bidders, an anonymous overseas buyer snapped it up for $5.4 million, plus a gallery commission and a buyer's premium that brought the total to A$6.9 million.

"Sylvette" was painted by Pablo Picasso when he was 73. It was one of 40 paintings and drawings he made of Sylvette David, a 17-year-old neighbor of his in the south of France.

"A ponytailed image of Sylvette, his muse, is the focus of the drawing and painting," gallery spokeswoman Marie Geissler told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "This painting has all the dynamism that he was rediscovering at that age of his life."

The painting was formerly part of the collection of Rodney Menzies, the director of the gallery.

The sale broke the previous record, held by the sale of Brett Whiteley's "The Olgas for Ernest Giles," which sold for $3.3 million in the same gallery last year.