Bonhams Sold A Picasso Owned Watch Last Week For $267,000

Posted on May 28 2021

Bonhams Sold A Picasso Owned Watch Last Week For $267,000

 When the pioneer of Cubism died in 1973 at the age of 91, he was the most creative artist in history, producing thousands of works in various media, including paintings, prints, engravings, sculptures, and ceramics.

Another "work of art" was added to the collection last week when a "Forgotten" timepiece once owned by Pablo Picasso was auctioned in Paris for the first time at Bonham's debut luxury watch sale, shattering all pre-auction estimates and achieving an incredible result.

Given Picasso's Woman Sitting by a Window recent sale at Christie's in New York for $103.4 million, it is not a surprise that this "one of a kind" timepiece fueled the internet and telephones, triggering a bidding war that held everyone on the edge of their seat, resulting with a final price of 219,050 Euros - $266,978

Pablo Picasso's Watch
A stunning example of horological self-branding!

  • Dial: Silvered with black 'Pablo Picasso' hour markers, gilt lance-shaped hands with luminous inserts, and center seconds.
  • Case: 32mm stainless steel round, brushed, and polished case, screw-down back, and stepped bezel.
  • Bracelet: Fitted expandable stainless steel
  • Movement: 17-jewel manual winding movement circa 1960 signed by Michael Z Berger (an independent Swiss watchmaker who continues to produce branded products in America), while the inside of the case back is stamped M.T. Co. Of Hong Kong (still in existence).
  • Provenance: Consigned by a relative of Lela Kanellopoulou.

The 1960 manual winding steel bracelet watch is one of three well-known Picasso-inspired timepieces and was often photographed on the icon's wrist, most notably in Cecil Beaton's 1944 portrait. Specially created for the artist by independent Swiss watchmaker Michael Z. Berger, this watch is particularly intriguing since instead of numerals on the dial, it features letters spelling out Pablo Picasso. Coincidentally for Pablo, his name is 12 characters long, perfectly forming the wristwatch's hour markers around the dial.

In his peculiar way, Picasso had a soft spot for horology science. His collection also included a 1940s Jaeger-LeCoultre 18K Yellow gold Triple Date Moon Phase, a 1950s Patek Philippe 18K Yellow Gold Triple Calendar Moon Phase, and a 1960s Rolex Stainless Steel GMT-Master. However, it is unclear what happened to these fine timepieces following Picasso's death.


Pablo Picasso Watch
Its whereabouts remained unknown until now!

As collectors of vintage watches are well aware, establishing the chronology of a timepiece can be rather challenging, which is why pieces that come with extensive documentation are so highly sought after.

According to Bonhams, Picasso pulled the watch from his wrist and  gifted it to the late Lela Kanellopoulou, a fellow Greek sculptor he dubbed "La Belle Helene."

Kanellopoulou met Picasso at the Cahiers d'Art publishing house, having collaborated with Christian Zervos, who published the important Cahiers d'Art magazine and the catalogue raisoné of the works of Picasso.

Lela Kanellopoulou

Since the Picasso foundation owns two of the three well-known Picasso-inspired timepieces, this is likely the only example in the public domain with the rare provenance of being donated directly by one of the twentieth century's greatest artists.

Catherine Yaiche, Director of Bonhams France, the Paris sale's auctioneer, stated: "This is an exceptional way to end this sale. I am happy to have been able to open our 2021 sales calendar in France & to conclude our sale by bringing down the gavel on this extremely rare Picasso watch, which blends art, luxury & the history of one of the most famous personalities in the world."

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