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Billion Dollar Art Auctions: Fall 2012

Billion Dollar Art Auctions: Fall 2012

Pablo Picasso

Nature morte aux tulips (1932)
Price: $41.5 million

At Sotheby's on Nov. 8, Picasso's portrait of his lover and muse, Marie-Therese Walter, one of nine works by the artist, fetched a respectable price. So did the master's "Femme a la Fenetre," which went for $17.2 million.

A dramatic work on paper by Picasso, "Le Viol," from the collection of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos, nearly tripled its estimate of $5 million and got $13.5 million.

By the end of the week, most experts had come to the conclusion that there was nothing amiss: Good pieces were finding buyers at decent prices. There just weren't enough good ones to go around, or to provide the auctions momentum.

After a decade-long boom, one observer intimated, it was possible the market for Impressionists and the early 20th century avant garde art was simply shopped out.

Photo: Sotheby's