Bellagio in Vegas showing 11 Picasso works before auction

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From left, Jose Reynoso and Terence McAllister lift a still life painting by Pablo Picasso titled “Buste d’Homme” at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021 in Las Vegas. The artworks — nine are paintings and two are ceramic pieces — are part of MGM Resorts’ collection and will be offered at auction Saturday. (Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Eleven Pablo Picasso artworks will be on display Friday and Saturday at a Las Vegas Strip resort, ahead of a Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art auction that host Sotheby’s estimates could fetch a combined $100 million.

The nine paintings and two ceramic pieces had been displayed inside the Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio until owner MGM Resorts decided earlier this year to sell them.

“I’ve been so used to seeing them in the restaurant, it really changes the dynamic of the work to see them here inside the gallery,” Tarissa Tiberti, executive director of arts and culture at MGM Resorts, told the Las Vegas Sun.

“It’s interesting and fun to see them in this setting. It’s been incredible that the Bellagio has had them on display for over 20 years to be viewed by the public,” she said.

The free show, called “Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection,” is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Two of the paintings are estimated by Sotheby’s to be worth as much as $30 million.

One, a colorful oil and enamel on canvas titled “Homme et enfant,” was created in 1969.

The other, “Femme au beret rouge-orange,” may be the crown jewel of the collection. It depicts Picasso’s lover and frequent muse, Marie-Therese Walter, and last sold at auction in the 1980s for around $900,000.

It was acquired by casino mogul Steve Wynn in 1998 and became MGM Resorts’ property when the company purchased The Mirage resort from Wynn.

Sotheby’s auctions typically take place in locales such as New York, London, Paris, Milan and Hong Kong. The Saturday evening event will a first major event in Las Vegas.

“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,” Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s chairman and head of sales for global fine art, said in a statement.

Over the course of more than 70 years as a working artist, Picasso is said to have created more than 13,000 paintings.

Tiberti said she believes he’ll forever be important.

“He made a lot of breakthroughs,” she said. “He pioneered a lot of ways and did a lot of work. Much like Monet and van Gogh, a lot of Picasso’s imagery is used over and over again, though the general public might not even know it.”

MGM Resorts plans to reshape its public art portfolio to deepen its focus on diversity and inclusion, it said in a statement.

“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 underrepresented communities,” said Ari Kastrati, company chief hospitality officer.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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