Picasso’s painting gets $139 million at auction.

At a Sotheby’s New York auction on Wednesday, Pablo Picasso’s 1932 painting “Femme à la montre” went for more than $139 million, making it the most valuable piece of art to be sold at an auction this year worldwide.

The piece is a highlight of the autumn art auction season in New York City and is frequently seen as a predictor of the art market. It was auctioned off as part of the late philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau’s estimated $400 million collection.

The nine-figure sum made it the second most expensive Picasso painting ever to be sold at auction, behind “Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” which sold for $179.3 million at Christie’s in 2015 (plus a buyer’s premium).

The French phrase “Femme à la montre,” which means “Woman with a Watch,” depicts Marie-Thérèse Walter, the artist’s lover, sitting in a chair like a throne against a blue background. Picasso frequently used the wristwatch motif in his paintings of his wife, the Russian-Ukrainian ballerina Olga Khokhlova.

When Walter first met the 45-year-old Picasso in Paris, she was just 17 years old. Later, when he was still married to Khokhlova, the two had a covert affair. Walter served as the inspiration for some of his paintings, such as “Femme nue couchée,” painted in 1932 and sold for $67.5 million at auction in 2022.

“Femme à la montre” was painted by Picasso during a significant year in his career. By 1932, he was fifty years old and already well-known, but he increased his aspirations to quell critics who asked “whether he was an artist of the past rather than the future,” according to the Tate Modern museum.

According to Sotheby’s, Fisher Landau purchased the artwork from Pace Gallery in New York in 1968 and hung it above the mantle in her Manhattan apartment.

For the picture, an unknown buyer outbid two other bidders.