A Pablo Picasso masterpiece Wednesday fetched Australian $6.9 million, breaking an Australian art auction record.
Picasso's 'Sylvette' painted in 1954, when the artist was in his eighties and living at the Cote d'Azur in southeastern France, went under the hammer at the Deutscher Menzies Galleries in suburban Kensington here.
After a brief bidding war of about 90 seconds between few phone bidders, an unknown buyer has become the proud owner of the masterpiece, snapped for $5.75 million or Australian $6.9 million including a buyer's premium.
The ponytail, long neck and young face of Sylvette David is recognisable in the brightly coloured, abstract portrait. Picasso is said to have been infatuated by this young muse and produced over 40 paintings and drawings of her.
The painting was formerly part of the collection of the director of the gallery, Rodney Menzies.
"He (Menzies) wants to show that Sydney is the New York of the art world in the southern hemisphere, and that we can sell to the international community," gallery spokeswoman Marie Geissler said.
The identity of the successful bidder has not been disclosed but it is believed to be a collector from Europe or Russia, where those in the art world say collectors are on "red alert" for quality Picassos, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.