The Michael Z. Berger watch of Pablo Picasso has been auctioned for the very first time via Bonhams. Fetching a tidy US$266,978 (AU$348,000) – close to 20 times what presale estimates had placed its value – the dial bears the historic artist’s own name in place of your conventional 12-hour markers, and represents just one of three known examples in the entire world.
The circa 1960 manual-wind steel watch was famously featured in a number of photographic portraits, before being gifted straight from the wrist of Pablo Picasso himself to Greek sculptor, Lela Kanellopoulou, who he affectionally referred to as ‘La Belle Helene’.
Kanellopoulou had first encountered Picasso at the Cahiers d’Art publishing house, after having collaborated with Christian Zervos, who published the important Cahiers d’Art magazine and the catalogue raisoné of the works of Picasso. The storied timepiece eventually made its way to an unidentified relative of Kanellopoulou, who has obviously since chosen to sell this artefact.
“This was an extraordinary find and we are so thrilled at this well-deserved result for such a special timepiece, which was also a superb example of the 12-digit name tradition,” says Jonathan Darracott, Bonhams Global Head of Watches.
“It is rather fitting that Picasso followed this trend as he was famous for being a great self-publicist.”
“This is an exceptional way to end this sale,” says Catherin Yaiche, event auctioneer and Director of Bonhams France.
“I am happy to have been able to open our 2021 sales calendar in France and to conclude our sale by bringing down the gavel on this extremely rare Picasso watch, which blends art, luxury, and the history of one of the most famous personalities in the world.”
It might be a bit of a nuisance to decipher… but at least it ain’t melting.