The purchaser remained anonymous and phoned in the winning bid.
Works by Egon Schiele and Joan Miro were also up for auction. The sale netted around $200 million, according to the auction house.
Picasso’s Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Woman sitting near a window), a painting of his young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter, sold within the £25 million to £35 million range set by pre-sale estimates.
It’s far from his most expensive work. Nonetheless, the price was considered strong by experts.
“We are delighted that this stunning and monumental portrait… fetched such a strong price,” said Helena Newman, who heads Sotheby’s European impressionist and modern art operations.
Picasso’s affair with Walter was scandalous for its time. He was 45 and well-established and she was only 17 when they began seeing each other. The artist was still married to first wife, Olga Khokhlova, a prima ballerina, at the time.
He and Walter managed to keep the affair secret because of Walte’s age. But she bore Picasso a daughter, Maya, in 1935. Khokhlova left immediately when she discovered the liaison.
Walter posed for him several times after they met in 1927 and art historians call her his “golden muse.”
In fact the most expensive Picasso ever sold was his Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which also featured his mistress. It was auctioned in 2010 for $106.5 million US and held the record until the 2012 sale of one of four copies of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for $120 million.
Picasso died in 1973 at the age of 91. Walter, who stayed with him until 1940, died in 1978. She was 68.