Companies are rethinking their art collection

Although shaken by financial losses linked to the health crisis, many companies are continuing to enrich their art collections

Published: Sep 2, 2021 02:11:03 PM IST
Updated: Sep 2, 2021 02:30:30 PM IST

MGM Resorts will auction off Pablo Picasso's "Femme au béret rouge-orange" on October 23 at Sotheby's.
Image: Photography Courtesy of Sotheby's and Mgm Resorts


Although shaken by financial losses linked to the health crisis, many companies are continuing to enrich their art collections. Even if it means selling some of their masterpieces at auction.

This was the choice made by MGM Resorts. The American leisure group has teamed up with Sotheby's to sell several gems by Pablo Picasso at a sale organized at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on October 23. This is the first time that Patrick Drahi's company has held an event of this magnitude in the United States outside its New York galleries.

To mark the occasion, the sale will be broadcast live on Sotheby's website. Art lovers will also be able to view the 11 Picasso paintings offered for sale at Sotheby's galleries in New York (September 7-13), Taipei (September 17-18) and Hong Kong (October 7-11), before they go under the hammer at the Bellagio.

Among them is " Femme au Béret Rouge-Orange," one of the Spanish master's last portraits of his muse and lover Marie-Therese Walter before he replaced her with Dora Maar. It is estimated at $20 million to $30 million. "Buste d'homme" and "Homme et enfant" will also be offered for sale on October 23. They could fetch up to 15 and 30 million dollars respectively.

Presenting 'diverse perspectives
"It is a privilege to present this exemplary selection of works by Picasso from the MGM art collection in a special auction to support MGM Resorts in evolving their collection to represent a broader and more diverse group of artists," said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby's Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art.

The sale of these Picasso paintings will allow MGM Resorts to make its art collection even more diverse and inclusive, with a focus on "artists from under-represented communities." ""We welcome millions of visitors from around the world annually throughout our resorts, giving us a tremendous platform for showcasing diverse perspectives within the art community," noted Ari Kastrati, MGM Resorts' Chief Hospitality Officer.

MGM Resorts is not the only group looking to diversify its collection, despite the disruption brought on by the health crisis. Visa recently purchased a CryptoPunk, the pixelated avatars of "outsiders and eccentrics" inspired by the punk movement, for $150,000. The purchase is of CryptoPunk 7,610, one of the 3,840 female punks listed on the platform created by Larva Labs.

The news was seen by some techies as a sign of the growing acceptance of crypto-art in mainstream culture. And indeed: 90 more CryptoPunks have sold following Visa's purchase, representing nearly $20 million in combined sales according to CoinDesk.

For the US company, the interest is still elsewhere. Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, said the acquisition allows them to jump "feet first" into the still nascent digital art market. "We think NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, entertainment, and commerce," he wrote on the company blog, adding that it is "just the beginning of our work in this space." "Something to inspire other companies to add non-fungible tokens to their art collection.

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