June 27, 2005

Lover sells Picasso works for 1.54 million euros

By Tiziana Cauli

PARIS (Reuters) - A lover of Pablo Picasso sold acollection of his sketches and engravings for 1.54 millioneuros ($1.88 million) on Monday, half a century after most ofthem were drawn during a romantic holiday.

Genevieve Laporte, now 79, left just before the start ofthe auction at which "Odalisque," a 1951 sketch of her lyingnaked on a bed, was bought by Paris's Picasso Museum for473,000 euros including costs -- three times the asking price.

Another sketch, "The Dream," also showing Laporte on a bed,fetched 417,000 euros including costs, the Artcurial AuctionHouse said.

Artcurial had hoped the 18 sketches, plus some engravingsand a pendant, would fetch about 2 million euros.

"I have a mission -- rehabilitating Pablo," Laporte toldReuters before selling her collection in the hope that it wouldshow the tender side of an artist often accused of treatingwomen badly.

Laporte and Picasso were lovers when she was in her mid-20salthough he was nearly 50 years older.

Most of the sketches in the collection were drawings ofLaporte, and were done during a holiday the lovers took inSaint Tropez on France's Mediterranean coast in 1951.

The secret love affair ended two years later when Laporterefused to move in with Picasso after his partner, artistFrancoise Gilot, left him.

Picasso, who died in 1973, was one of the most celebratedartists of the 20th century. He co-founded Cubism but hisprodigious output included realist portraits and sculpture.

The collection of sketches was described as Picasso's"Tender" or "Genevieve" period by the Hermitage Museum in theRussian city of St. Petersburg when it showed them.

Laporte first met Picasso as a teenager, when sheinterviewed him for her school newspaper in 1944. She had bythat time joined the Resistance against Nazi German forcesoccupying France in World War II and started writing poetry.

They were friends for several years before their affairbegan.

($1=.8209 Euro)