Lifestyle & Belief

Lempicka painting believed lost is found, expected to sell for millions


Visitors visit the retrospective dedicated to the French impressionist artist Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) at Marmottan-Monet Museum in Paris on March 7, 2012. Foreground, 'Portrait de Mme Hubbard'.


Jacques Demarthon

New York's Sotheby's auction house today said it will offer a newly-discovered work by art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka in a sale expected to fetch between $3 and $5 million, reported the Associated Press (AP). 

The painting, “Reclining Nude I” (one), disappeared soon after it first exhibited in Milan in 1925, said AP, and has since been simply labelled "location unknown." 

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The ensuing 80-some-odd years saw the work migrate from Italy to the United States' West Coast.

Simon Shaw, Sotheby's head of Impressionist and modern art, told Reuters that its unsuspecting owner, the head of a contruction company, had the piece in house for decades but "had no inkling of what it was" despite the fact that Lempicka "is now one of the most desirable of all female modern artists."

Works by the Polish painter, who exhibited in Paris in the 1920s, have appreciated greatly in recent years. The New York City-based Sotheby's issued a press release today saying the discovery is "appearing on the market at a time of unprecedented interest in the artist."

As for Lempicka herself, she passed away in 1980 at the age of 81, spending her final years "living the life of a glamorous European socialite," according to Reuters

Her work is known for its bold depiction of female sexuality and reflects the prevalent art deco style of the time. 

Reuters said Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson and Madonna are all Lempicka collectors.