MGM Resorts to Reshape Public Fine Art Portfolio, Enhancing Focus on Diversity and Inclusion
Coinciding with Pablo Picasso’s 140th birthday this October, MGM Resorts and Sotheby’s will present a special, first-of-its-kind marquee Evening Sale of masterworks by the iconic artist from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection. The auction of works by Picasso, which will be conducted live from Bellagio on Saturday, October 23, marks the largest and most significant fine art auction to ever take place in Las Vegas, and comes as MGM Resorts, the world-renowned entertainment company, reshapes its public fine art portfolio, deepening its focus on diversity and inclusion.
The unique collaboration between Sotheby’s and MGM represents the first time Sotheby’s has hosted a marquee Evening Sale in North America outside its signature New York auction venue, and will feature a recreated version of the auction house’s storied saleroom in Las Vegas. As a Marquee Auction, Sotheby’s also will broadcast the sale around the world via a livestream viewable on Sothebys.com. Pre-sale exhibitions of the full selection of works to be offered at auction will take place at Sotheby’s New York galleries (September 7 – 13) and at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (October 21- 23) in Las Vegas, with traveling exhibitions of select highlights planned for Taipei (September 17 – 18) and Hong Kong (October 7 – 11). All exhibitions are complimentary and open to the public.
Accompanying the auction is a four-day exhibition of luxury property specially curated by Sotheby’s, which will be on view at MGM’s ARIA resort October 21-24. The exhibition will feature a selection of the world’s finest luxury objects, including automobiles, jewelry and watches, handbags, sneakers, and much more. Property from the exhibition will be sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York at the end of October, in addition to being available for bidding online at Sothebys.com and via the Sotheby’s app. Further details about the luxury showcase at ARIA and the auction at Sotheby’s will be released in the coming weeks.
“It’s an honor to collaborate with Sotheby’s to bring this first-of-its-kind art and entertainment experience to Las Vegas and embark on this momentous auction,” said Ari Kastrati, MGM Resorts’ Chief Hospitality Officer. “We welcome millions of visitors from around the world annually throughout our resorts, giving us a tremendous platform for showcasing diverse perspectives within the art community. While diversity has long been in MGM Resorts’ DNA, we are committed to creating an even more inclusive collection that maintains the breadth of our existing portfolio while giving a greater voice to artists from under-represented communities.”
Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s Chairman and Worldwide Head of Sales for Global Fine Art, commented: “It is a privilege to present this exemplary selection of works by Picasso from the MGM art collection in a special auction to support MGM Resorts in evolving their collection to represent a broader and more diverse group of artists. MGM Resorts is a world-class entertainment and hospitality brand known for bringing the finest experiences to their clientele, and we cannot wait to work together to bring the magic of a Sotheby’s Evening Sale to Las Vegas for the first time. As one of the most famous, beloved and accomplished artists of all time, we couldn’t imagine anyone better than Picasso to inaugurate this unique art and culture experience.”
Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection
Featuring 11 works that showcase the range and breadth of Pablo Picasso’s celebrated career, the auction includes a highly curated selection of paintings, works on paper, and ceramics that span more than 50 years of artistic output from 1917 to 1969. The auction stars Femme au béret rouge-orange (estimate $20/30 million), one of Picasso’s defining portraits of Marie Thérèse Walter, the artist’s famed muse and lover who inspired many of his most revered and iconic portraits of the 1930s. Executed in 1938, the present painting is one the artist’s final works capturing Marie-Thérèse, and marks a pivotal time after Picasso met the photographer Dora Maar, whose visage slowly began to eclipse that of Marie-Thérèse in his work. Picasso’s deeply autobiographical portraits from this period reveal characteristics of both women, and reinforce how exceedingly rare paintings of Marie-Thérèse are from this year. Adorned with her signature beret, Picasso’s tender portrait uses a yellow and green palette to accentuate Marie-Thérèse’s rounded features, which are characteristic of Picasso’s portrayals of her, and further highlights how much the artist coveted this highly personal painting, which he kept in his private collection for decades.
The sale is further highlighted by two exquisite, large-scale portraits emblematic of the artist’s late period works: Homme et enfant (estimate $20/30 million) and Buste d’homme (estimate $10/15 million). Painted during one of the most inspired and productive periods of the artist’s life, from January 5, 1969 to February 2, 1970, both works were included in the monumental 1970 exhibition at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, arguably the most important exhibition of his late career. Each painting displays Picasso’s meditation on his artistic legacy, both from a personal and art historical perspective, and showcases the artist continuing to refine his mastery of portraiture in his final years of work.
Among the largest paintings ever executed by Picasso, Homme et enfant encapsulates the artist’s preoccupation with his life and legacy during this late period of his career. The two figures in the painting, a man and child, are symbols of Picasso’s artistic legacy as both a younger man and an artist working toward the end of his career, as well as his legacy as a father.
Related to his Mousquetaires series, Buste d’homme reflects on the artistic and thematic influence of Old Masters like Velazquez and Rembrandt, in which Picasso aligns himself with the monumental painters of history.
Also included in the October sale is Nature morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs (estimate $10/15 million), an outstanding, museum-quality still life painted by Picasso during the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1942. While Picasso was barred from exhibiting his work during this time, until the historic 1944 Salon d’Automne, also known as the Salon de la Libération, he remained as prolific as ever. Without the opportunity to present his work publicly, Picasso’s experience during the occupation caused him to look inward and meditate on life and death during wartime, and his output showcased bold stylistic choices of muted tones and graphic Cubist-inspired lines that reflected his introspection. This period is considered one of the greatest and most focused of Picasso’s renowned still lifes, comparable only to his earlier Cubist period.
The sale is rounded out by several works on paper, including a portrait of the commedia dell’arte character Pierrot (estimate $2.5/3.5 million); an additional wartime still life, Nature morte aux fleurs et au compotier (estimate $6/8 million), painted in Paris in 1943; Aiguière – Visage (estimate $60/80,000), a ceramic pitcher; and much more. More details about the works being offered at auction will be released in the coming weeks.
About MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection
Upon its 1998 opening, Bellagio was the first resort committed to bringing fine art to Las Vegas. With the introduction of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and restaurants like Picasso, featuring the master’s iconic paintings and charming ceramic pieces, MGM Resorts first introduced art into the array of amenities for guests to experience in Las Vegas. Since then, the company has steadily grown its art portfolio. Unveiled in 2009, the ARIA Fine Art Collection was Las Vegas’ first major permanent collection of public art, and one of the world’s largest and most ambitious corporate art collections. In 2016, MGM Resorts along with ARIA Resort & Casino became the title sponsor of Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, one of the largest land-based art installations completed in more than 40 years. Later that same year, MGM National Harbor debuted just south of Washington D.C. with the largest public art collection outside of the region’s museums. Drawing inspiration from the city’s legacy rich in art and culture, MGM Springfield, which opened in 2018, features a curated collection by local and national artists from large-scale sculptures to intriguing paintings. Artwork also can be found throughout many of the company’s other properties including MGM Grand, Delano Las Vegas and The Mirage.