A 3-foot tall iron sculpture by Picasso has just rattled the multibillion-dollar art market.
The sculpture, called "Tete," failed to sell at a Christie's auction Monday night. It was estimated the piece, which was a model for a 50-foot sculpture built for Daley Plaza in Chicago, would fetch between $25 million and $35 million.
The work was one of 17 that failed to sell at the auction of works from the collection of Jan Krugier. Another was a 1911 Wassily Kandinsky landscape that was expected to sell in the range of $20 million to $25 million, but there were no bidders. Many others sold below their estimated value.
In total, Christie's was expected to fetch between $158 million and $224 million from the sale. Instead sales totaled $92.5 million.
(Read more: Top sign of an art bubble? Jay Z raps about Warhol?)
It's tempting to see the sale as a sign that the frothy art market may finally be breaking down. The big auctions in New York this week and next are expected to fetch more than $1.5 billion. Monday's sale was one of many smaller auctions that lead up to the all-important contemporary art evening sales next week.