MGM Resorts was looking to diversify its collection and include more art from people of color, emerging nations, and LGBTQ artists.
On Saturday, eleven Picasso paintings and other art that made Las Vegas an unusual destination for art were auctioned for over $100 million.
The Sotheby’s auction took place at the Bellagio Las Vegas hotel, where the works were on display for many years. It was two days before Oct. 25, the 140th birthday celebration of the Spanish artist.
Five of the paintings were hung on the walls at Picasso, the Bellagio’s fine-dining restaurant. The restaurant will continue to show 12 additional Picasso works.
The 1938 painting “Femme au beret Rouge-orange”, Picasso’s lover, and muse Marie Therese Walter, sold for $40.5million, or $10 million more than the pre-sale estimate.
Large-scale portraits of “Homme et Enfant”, and “Buste d’homme”, sold for $24.4m and $9.5m, respectively. Smaller works on ceramic like “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe”, which sold for $2.1m, were three- to four times their presale value.
The names of the buyers were not revealed.
MGM Resorts, a casino and hotel group, sold Saturday’s auction as part of an effort to diversify its extensive collection and include more art from people of color, emerging nations, and LGBTQ artists.
American museums and galleries of art have been expanding their collections following the 2020 cultural reckoning over racism at all levels in American society.
A 2019 Public Library of Science survey of 18 top U.S. museums revealed that 85 percent of the artists are white, and 87 percent of them are men.
MGM Resorts Fine Arts Collection contains approximately 900 pieces from 200 artists, including contemporary pieces by Bob Dylan or David Hockney. Steve Wynn, ex-owner of the Bellagio, and former chief executive at Wynn Resorts, started it more than 20 years back.