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NEW YORK: PICASSO’S Blue Period canvas Femme aux bras croisés set a world record for the artist at auction on November 8 when it doubled estimate to realise a hammer price of $50m (£35m) at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York.
The work becomes the fifth most expensive painting sold at auction.
Two further world records fell in the same sale – for the artist and any sculpture at auction – when Giacometti’s Grande femme debout I took $13m (£9.1m). But these outstanding results belied what otherwise proved a disappointing sale, whose £100m premium-inclusive total was way below estimate.

Christopher Burge, honorary chairman of Christie’s America, blamed ambitious estimates and the lack of a single-owner collection to boost prices, but noted that top quality works had no problem selling at the right level.
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Part I sale in New York the following day had fewer showstoppers but recorded an almost identical performance, with 60 per cent sold by lot (Christie’s: 58 per cent) and 72 per cent by value (Christie’s: 72 per cent). Henri Matisse’s La Robe Persane set an auction record for the artist at $15.4m (£10.75m).