Painting that was sold to a mystery bidder for £66m last year to go on display in gallery’s new Pablo Picasso room

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust – the Picasso painting that last year became the most expensive art work ever sold at auction – is to be publicly displayed in the UK for the first time.

Tate Modern said it would be seen in a new Pablo Picasso room following a loan by its anonymous owner.

Tate’s director, Sir Nicholas Serota, welcomed the loan. He said: “This is an outstanding painting by Picasso and I am delighted that through the generosity of the lender we are able to bring it to the British public for the first time.”

The painting is seen as a seminal work. Created on a single day in 1932, it is one of a sequence of works showing the artist’s then love, his muse and mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Serota said the paintings were “widely regarded as amongst his greatest achievements of the interwar period”.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust went into the record books last May when it sold at Christie’s in New York for $106.5m (£66m). The last time it changed hands before that was in 1951, when it sold for $19,800 to Los Angeles-based collectors Sidney and Frances Brody. During that time they hardly let it out of their sight and it was exhibited in public only once – in 1961, to mark the artist’s 80th birthday.

Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was painted at the height of Picasso’s lustful ardour for Walter, a young woman whom the married middle-aged artist first encountered in 1927 when she was 17 – he spotted her leaving a Paris Metro station and accosted her.

Walter later recalled that he took her by the arm and said: “I am Picasso! You and I are going to do great things together.”

They went on to have a passionate affair that ended in 1935 when Picasso took on a new mistress – Dora Maar.

It is undoubtedly a feted painting, although its depiction of feminine sexual submissiveness is not to every taste.

The new owner of the painting remains a mystery, although the fact that it has been offered to Tate suggests a UK connection. One name mentioned as a bidder in the New York Times was Chelsea FC’s Russian owner, Roman Abramovich.

As published in Guardian


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