Picasso’s Sleeping Mistress May Fetch $28.6 Million at Auction

A Pablo Picasso painting of his mistress may sell for as much as 18 million pounds ($28.6 million) at Sotheby’s in London next month as auction houses feed collectors’ hunger for trophy works of 20th-century art.

“La Lecture,” showing Picasso’s blonde muse Marie-Therese Walter asleep in a chair with a book on her lap, will be offered in Sotheby’s Feb. 8 sale of Impressionist and modern art, the New York-based company said in an e-mailed statement.

The work dates from 1932, the same year as the Picasso’s Walter-inspired “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” which fetched $106.5 million -- a record for any work of art at auction -- at Christie’s International in New York in May last year. It was one of several museum-quality works by big-name 20th-century artists that international bidders pushed to new highs in 2010.

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