Dalian Wanda Group, a real estate and entertainment conglomerate in China, snapped up a Picasso painting for $28.16 million (172 million yuan), more than double its estimated price, at a Christie’s auction in New York City, Chengdu Commercial News reported.
The painting, titled Claude et Paloma, was created in 1950. It is a portrait of Picasso’s two children, Claude, then 3, and daughter, Paloma, 1. The piece was estimated at a price of between $9 million to $12 million.
There were almost a dozen international bidders raising their hands about 30 times during bidding for the artwork, which began at $8 million, said Guo Qiangxiang, who is in charge of art collections for Wanda, a report on Chinese news portal Sohu.com said.
“This painting is Picasso’s masterpiece completed in his prime, so to pay $28.16 million for the art work appears to make use of the lower price,” said Guo. “I think that it’s decently priced, and I’m very satisfied with it.”
“Wanda Group wants to keep these great pieces of art. Be it locally produced Chinese art work, or Western ones, as long as they possess originality, and represent individualism, they will be considered for the collection,” he said.
Also, “the sluggish situation of US and European economies is one of the most important reasons for us to gain the painting,” he added.
It is the first time that Wanda Group bought Picasso’s artwork. Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Corp Ltd, is the newly crowned richest person in China, according to the Hurun Rich List 2013. His personal wealth has doubled to $22 billion in 2013, a record-high in the 15 years Hurun list has been published.
Wanda Group is not the first Chinese colloctor to purchase western art works, but it is the first time a domestic company competed with powerful western collectors with an unprecedented price for a top piece of art, Sohu reported.
China has become a key market for foreign auction houses with its growing pool of wealthy new buyers, according to a report from CNBC.