Pablo Picasso’s 1932 oil painting Le Sauvetage has sold at auction for more than $US31 million after a bidding war at Sotheby’s in New York, which saw it surge past its estimated pre-sale price.
The surrealist master’s enigmatic work – which was last sold a decade ago – went under the hammer for $US31.52 million ($A34.10 million) on Wednesday, following several minutes of frenzied bidding.
The painting had been expected to fetch between $US14 million and $US18 million.
It was one of 14 Picasso works offered by Sotheby’s as part of its auction of Impressionist and Modern Art.
In total, eight lots were sold for an aggregate $US62.088 million
However, one of the lots expected to generate most activity – Picasso’s Tete de Marie-Therese (Head of Marie-Therese), valued between $US15 million and $US20 million – failed to find a buyer.
Another important work, La Seance du Matin by French master Henri Matisse, sold for $US19.205 million, just below its lower estimate of $US20 million.
A canvas by French impressionist Claude Monet, Le Pont Japonais (The Japanese Bridge) meanwhile fetched $US15.845 million, in line with its estimated range of between $US12 million and $US18 million.
Sotheby’s reported total sales of just under $US219 million.