Picasso masterpiece set to smash world record

A sale is set to make history later Monday, with expectations that a multi-million dollar sale of a Pablo Picasso masterpiece could smash a world record.

Picasso's colorful 1955 cubist creation "Les femmes d'Alger (Version "O")" will go under the hammer at a sale by auction house Christie's in New York, with estimates that it could fetch a price of $140 million.

What's not included in the pre-sale estimate is standard commission - at just over 12 percent -- and if sold at Christie's valuation, the painting could outstrip the current record for most expensive painting bought at auction ($142.4 million), and go for more than $155 million, according to Reuters.

Picasso's "Les femmes d'Alger (Version "O")" is seen to be painted as a tribute to his late friend and artistic competitor, Henri Matisse who died in 1954.

Pablo Picasso's “Les femmes d’Alger (Version O)”
Justin Tallis | AFP | Getty Images
Pablo Picasso's “Les femmes d’Alger (Version O)”

Version "O" is just part of his fifteen adaptations inspired by romantic artist, Eugène Delacroix's own "Les femmes d'Alger", which Picasso painted a series of during 1954 to 1955.

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Ahead of the auction, Jussi Pylkkanen, Global President for Christie's, said this would be "a sale to remember" with Olivier Camu, deputy chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art, echoing this, saying it would be "a watershed moment in the market for 20th Century art" in a statement.

"From the auctioneer's rostrum it has become clear that the many new global collectors chasing masterpieces have been waiting for an iconic Picasso to appear on the market. None is more iconic than Les femmes d'Alger," said Pylkkanen in a statement.

The last time the masterpiece featured at auction was in 1997, where Version "O" went for over double its estimates, at $31.9 million. This painting is part of Christie's "Looking forward to the past" sale and is among many other art works on sale Monday, including Alberto Giacometti's "L'Homme au Doight" sculpture, which is estimated at $130 million.

Currently, Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" triptych holds the record for the most expensive painting sold at auction. It sold at $142.4 million – including commission -- at Christie's New York auction house, in November 2013, after beating its original estimate of $85 million.

Not only that, Christie's holds the world record for the most expensive Picasso painting sold at auction, which was his 1932 "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," which sold for $106.5 million in May 2010.

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