Coveted Picasso paintings sell for a fortune in Sweden

Four works by one of the greatest painters of all time have been sold in Sweden for a small fortune, as international buyers jumped at a rare chance to own paintings by Spaniard Pablo Picasso.

Coveted Picasso paintings sell for a fortune in Sweden
Deep pockets were needed to claim one of the works. Photo: Uppsala auktionskammare

The paintings were formally part of the Neuman Collection, a collection of artwork compiled by Swedish businessman Bertil Neuman, who died in 2011. The works, which came to Sweden during the 1970s and 1980s, were auctioned off at Uppsala Auction House (Uppsala auktionskammare) on Wednesday night.

“Go out on the street in any city in any country and ask ‘Who is Pablo Picasso?’. Everyone would know he’s one of the foremost painters of the 1900s,” Uppsala Auction House CEO and Picasso expert Magnus Behed told The Local.

“It’s a world name. So there were customers all over the world interested in these paintings.”

The biggest earner was “Fillette au béret”, a portrait of a little girl done by Picasso in the 1960s, which fetched 26,215,000 kronor ($2.9 million) from a starting price of 12-18 million kronor.

The painting had been showed in London, Paris and New York during October, helping to entice bidders from all over the world.

“’Fillette au béret’, which dates from 1964, is a very typical Picasso painting. If you were to hide the signature, everyone would still know it’s Picasso,” Behed explained.

Uppsala Auction House chief curator Knut Knutson (left) and Behed with “Fillette au béret” Photo: Uppsala auktionskamare

“Nus”, a painting from the latter stages of Picasso’s life, went for 10.53 million kronor ($1.16 million) from a starting price of between 3-5 million kronor. Two of the Spaniard's other works, “Femme nue se coiffant” and “Le repos”, also sold for millions.

Wednesday was the first time that four Picassos had been auctioned off in Sweden.

“Having four of these in Sweden is completely abnormal. It was fantastic. You’d call it a white-glove sale. Everything sold, and for 80 percent over the starting price. So it’s a very big success, a very big success,” Behed beamed. 


Stockholm’s giant penis mural to be covered up after complaints

A giant blue penis painted on a Stockholm apartment building is to be covered up after just one week, the company which owns the building has said.

Stockholm's giant penis mural to be covered up after complaints
The penis was painted in blue with a yellow background, perhaps reflecting Sweden's national colours. Photo: Photo: Hugo Röjgård/Graffitifrämjandet
Atrium Ljungberg said it had come to the decision after receiving a barrage of complaints about the five-story high depiction of a bulging erection.  
“Of course we care about artistic freedom, but at the same time we must respect the opinion of our closest neighbours,” Camilla Klint, the company's marketing head, said in a statement. 
“By letting it remain for a short period, we are offering anyone who's interested a chance to experience the work.” 
The company said that it had been given no prior warning that a giant penis was about to appear on one of its blocks. 
“On Wednesday morning, April 11th, we saw  Kollektivet Livet's new work for the first time, at exactly the same moment as all the other people who live on Kungsholmen did,” it said in its statement.  
Under their arrangement, the artist collective had total artistic freedom over the works it commissioned for the wall, at Kronobergsgatan 35 on the central Stockholm island of Kungsholmen.  
The decision will come as a disappointment to the artist Carolina Falkholt. Her first giant penis painting, which she plastered on a wall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in December, lasted only a few days. 
She said on Wednesday that she expected her native Swedes to be more receptive. 
Atrium Ljungberg did acknowledge that many appreciated the painting. 
“Some people are positive about the work and see it as playing an important part in the debate around sexuality, the body and gender,” the company wrote.
“Others, particularly neighbours, have received the work less well, and experience it as offensive.”