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Picasso masterpiece auctioned in Britain

A celebrated masterpiece by Pablo Picasso sold at Christie's auction house in London for 34.8 million pounds, in a sale that set a record for the amount of money made at a British art auction.

art and culture Updated: Jun 24, 2010 13:36 IST

A celebrated masterpiece by Pablo Picasso sold at Christie's auction house in London for 34.8 million pounds, in a sale that set a record for the amount of money made at a British art auction.

The "Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto", also known as "The Absinthe Drinker", is a 1903 work from the Spanish painter's Blue Period, and was sold for the equivalent of $51.6 million.

Its expected sale price was between 30 and 40 million pounds.

The sale, which also included works by Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse, fetched a total of 152.6 million pounds, the highest amount ever at a British art auction.

It broke the previous record of 147 million pounds set at a Sotheby's sale in February.

"The Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto", which was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder depicts one of Picasso's artist companions, leaning on a table with a glass of absinthe and smoke curling from his pipe.

The painting was sold by British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's foundation, a charity which focuses on the promotion of arts, culture and heritage in Britain. It acquired the work for $29.2 million in New York in 1995.

The second most expensive work at the auction was a portrait of a woman by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt, "Frauenbildnis (Portrait of Ria Munk III)", which sold for 18.8 million pounds.