Bellagio Bidding Adieu to Famed Picasso Collection

Today was the last day the general public can view Bellagio’s prized collection of Pablo Picasso artwork before the pieces are auctioned.

Picasso Bellagio
Picasso Bellagio
Picasso’s “Homme et enfant” at the Bellagio. MGM is auctioning that other Picasso works. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Bellagio, operated by MGM Resorts International, held a free art show called “Picasso: Masterworks from the MGM Resorts Fine Art Collection,” for eight hours on Friday and four hours today. The integrated resort’s Picasso collection, which consists of nine paintings and two ceramic works, will be auctioned at the upcoming Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art event. Sotheby’s will conduct that auction.

The auction of works by Picasso, which will be conducted live from Bellagio on Saturday, October 23, marks the largest and most significant fine art auction to ever take place in Las Vegas, and comes as MGM Resorts, the world-renowned entertainment company, reshapes its public fine art portfolio, deepening its focus on diversity and inclusion,” according to a statement issued by Las Vegas-based MGM to announce the sale.

The prestigious auction house held pre-sale exhibitions last month in New York and Taipei and earlier this month in Hong Kong.

Another Influx of Cash for MGM

While it’s not the windfall generated by the sale of a casino or larger asset — something MGM executed to perfection over the past two years — the gaming company is still grossing a decent amount of proceeds from the Picasso sale.

Sotheby’s estimates the sale of the 11 Picasso works could command $100 million combined with a pair of the paintings combining for $30 million. That’s a far cry from the multi-billion dollar stratosphere in which the company usually operates when it comes to asset sales, but $100 million is nothing to scoff at.

The two paintings that could garner the largest price tags are the 1969 work “Homme et enfant” and “Femme au beret rouge-orange,” the latter of which has history in the gaming industry. It previously hung in the Mirage prior to MGM acquiring that property from Steve Wynn in 1989. That work has appreciated significantly as it was last auctioned in the late 1980s for $900,000, according to the Associated Press.

“Among the largest paintings ever executed by Picasso, “Homme et enfant” encapsulates the artist’s preoccupation with his life and legacy during this late period of his career. The two figures in the painting, a man and child, are symbols of Picasso’s artistic legacy as both a younger man and an artist working toward the end of his career, as well as his legacy as a father,” according to MGM.

MGM’s collection was displayed outside the Picasso restaurant at the Bellagio for more than two decades.

MGM Has Extensive Art Collection

Even with the departure of the Picasso works, MGM sports one of Corporate America’s most impressive art collections.

The Aria fine art collection was Las Vegas’ first major permanent collection of public art when it debuted in 2009. MGM National Harbor in Maryland has one of the most extensive collections in that region outside of Washington, DC’s famed Museums. The operator also has collections in Las Vegas at the Delano, MGM Grand and the Mirage as well as MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.

Private equity giant Blackstone owns the property assets of Bellagio and Aria, but the artwork belongs to MGM.

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