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Rockefeller Auction Sells $646 Million In First Night

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Rockefeller Auction Sells $646 Million In First Night

Christie's sale of a Picasso nude for $115 million kick-started what some experts have been calling "the sale of the century" – over 1,000 works of art and fine objects from the storied collection of the late David and Peggy Rockefeller.

On Tuesday night, the first of three auctions in New York achieved a total sale of $646 million for works from the 19th and 20th centuries, reports CNN.

With two more days of auctions and online sales until May 11, the collection has already become the most valuable collection sold at auction. (Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé's collection of 700-plus works, which sold for $484 million in 2009, had held the current record.)

The collection, amassed over a lifetime, reflects the Rockefellers' wide-ranging tastes, from impressionist art to Chinese porcelain.

The top lot, Picasso's "Fillette à la corbeille fleurie" (1905), had an estimate of $100 million and sold for $115 million. The Rose Period work (a time when Picasso used orange and pink colors in contrast to blue, somber hues) was once owned by Gertrude Stein, and was mentioned in Ernest Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" memoir.

The sale also broke several world auction records for artists. Henri Matisse's "Odalisque couchée aux magnolias" (1923), was estimated to sell for $70 million and sold for $80.7 million. Before the Rockefeller sale, the most expensive Matisse auctioned was his 1911 work "Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose," which sold for $46.4 million in 2009.

Image credit: Christie’s