Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Picasso portrait fetches 8.1m at Christie's auction

Tete de Femme (Jacqueline)
Picasso was said to "humorously" exaggerate the neck of his subject

A Picasso masterpiece unseen in public for 43 years has gone under the hammer at auctioneers Christie's for £8.1m.

Tete de Femme (Jacqueline) had been expected to fetch £3m-£4m at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in London.

The painting, never offered at auction before, had remained in the same collection since 1981.

Christie's would not reveal the identity of the purchaser of the 1963 portrait of the artist's second wife.

Jacqueline was said to have had a short neck and the artist would often "humorously" exaggerate its size in portraits.

The auction included a number of masterpieces by Picasso, Renoir and Matisse.

Kees van Dongen's La Gitane fetched £7.1m, Natalia Goncharova's Espagnole sold for £6.4m, while Henri Matisse's Nu aux jambes croisees went for £3.8m.

A Christie's spokeswoman said: "It's been a very busy evening and many of the pieces have exceeded estimates."

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