Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2019

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Steve Wynn among bidders for Picasso that sold for $179.4 million


Bebeto Matthews / AP

In this May 1, 2015, photo, visitors are introduced to Alberto Giacometti’s life-size bronze sculpture “Pointing Man,” left, after viewing the Pablo Picasso oil painting “Women of Algiers (Version O)” during Christie’s press preview in New York.

Popeye at Wynn

A Popeye sculpture is displayed in the Wynn Esplanade Thursday, July 17, 2014. The stainless steel sculpture, by American artist Jeff Koons, was purchased at auction for $28.2 million. Launch slideshow »

It was one for the history books as Christie’s New York auction house soared past its first-ever $1 billion week in art sales, and our hotel tycoon Steve Wynn was there in on the frantic bidding.

Steve was trying to acquire a Pablo Picasso work that at $179.4 million became the costliest painting ever to go under the auctioneer’s hammer.

Steve kept his bidding paddle raised until the price for the 1955 masterpiece “Les Femmes d’Alger” surpassed $125 million.

He then bowed out, saying: “I bid early on in the process. But I think $179 million is a price you sell a picture at, but not the price you buy it at.”

Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and actor Leonardo DiCaprio were among the VIPs watching the feverish bidding that drew hollers and gasps when the hammer fell.

The identity of the buyer who placed the winning $179 million bid among four other competitors remains unknown.

Steve’s former wife, Elaine Wynn, who purchased a 1969 work by Francis Bacon showing “Three Studies of Lucian Freud,” held the previous record.

Her reported purchase price was $142 million.

With art sales of $706 million Monday and another $685 million Wednesday, the total of nearly $1.4 billion set the new high for a single week.

Steve also was a seller of a 1938 Picasso portrait that drew $67.4 million. Buyers, many new from China and other parts of Asia, were from 40 countries to make their bids by telephone.

The high-priced Picasso sale was one of six artists who shattered records this week. Another world record, for a sculpture, was set for an Alberto Giacometti work for $141 million.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

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