Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 12:17 UK

Picasso breaks Australian record

Picasso painting 'Sylvette'
Sylvette David was Picasso's 17-year-old neighbour in Vallauris, France

An abstract painting by Picasso has sold in Sydney for $6.9m AUS (3.32m), making it the most expensive piece of art sold at auction in Australia.

The 1954 painting, Sylvette - featuring model and muse Sylvette David - sold to an anonymous overseas phone bidder at the Deutscher-Menzies Galleries.

One of 40 works inspired by David, it was painted by Picasso when he was 73.

The sale broke the previous record of $3.48m AUS (1.67m), set in 2007, for a work by Australia's Brett Whiteley.

"Sydney is the New York of the art market in the southern hemisphere," said Deutscher-Menzies Galleries spokeswoman Marie Geissler.

'Historic day'

Rodney Menzies, the director of the gallery, bought the Picasso two years ago for $4.6m (2.2m).

"It's a historic day for Australia in the sense that a very significant international picture by the greatest artist of the 20th Century was sold at an Australian auction for a record price," Mr Menzies told Agence France Presse.

Picasso came across Sylvette David, his 17-year-old neighbour, while living in the south of France.

Her tall frame and long, blond ponytail fascinated the Spanish cubist painter, who died in 1973.




SEE ALSO
Two Picassos stolen in Brazil
12 Jun 08 |  Americas
Stolen Picasso found in Sao Paulo
09 Jan 08 |  Americas
Picasso stolen from Brazil museum
20 Dec 07 |  Americas
Stolen Picassos found in Paris
07 Aug 07 |  Europe

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