A wristwatch once owned by Pablo Picasso sold 20 times its presale estimate

Michael Z. Berger Co.’s Pablo Picasso wristwatch circa 1960 auctioned for the first time.


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A rare wristwatch belonging to Pablo Picasso first auctioned Thursday at Bonhams first luxury watch sale in Paris.

The hand-wound steel wristwatch from the 1960s by independent Swiss watch producer Michael Z. Berger sparked fierce bidding wars from buyers online and over the phone. The final sale price at € 219,050 ($ 266,978) was almost 20 times its pre-sale estimate of between € 12,000 and € 18,000.

The watch was one of three known examples bearing Picasso’s name on the silver dial. Black letters form the 12 o’clock markers. Picasso was often seen wearing the watch in photographs, including the famous portrait of Cecil Beaton in 1944.

Picasso gifted the wristwatch to Lela Kanellopoulou, a Greek sculptor the artist referred to as “La Belle Hélène,” according to the unidentified seller who is linked to Kanellopoulou, Bonhams said. She met Picasso at Cahiers d’Art editions, after having collaborated with Christian Zervos, who published the important magazine Cahiers d’Art and the catalog raisoné of Picasso’s works.

“It was an extraordinary discovery and we are delighted with this well-deserved result for such a special timepiece, which was also a superb example of the tradition of 12-digit names,” said Jonathan Darracott, Global Head of Watches at Bonhams . declaration. “It is rather fitting that Picasso followed this trend because he was famous for being a great self-publicist.

The 44-lot sale, Bonham’s first luxury watch sale in Paris, also included a collection of 11 pieces by Giuseppe “Oscar” Damiani, a former Italian professional football winger. Wristwatches from brands such as Patek Philippe and Rolex all mark important moments in the history of its former AC Milan and Juventus FC teams, according to Bonhams.

The 11 pieces were all auctioned. A Patek Philippe automatic annual calendar wristwatch in 18-carat gold made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the AC Milan football club, sold for € 27,800; and a Rolex stainless steel automatic wristwatch commemorating AC Milan’s Champions League and Serie A victories, sold for € 9,563.

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