Published: June 1, 2021
PARIS – A circa 1960 manual-wind stainless steel bracelet watch by little-known Swiss watchmaker Michael Z. Berger displaced examples by blue-chip makers Rolex, Patek Philippe and Jaeger-LeCoultre to take top-lot honors at Bonhams’ May 20 sale of Fine Watches & Chronographs.
It helped that it had been owned by – and made specifically for – Pablo Picasso and was often photographed on the arm of one of the most iconic artists of the Twentieth Century. It also featured the letters of his name taking the place of the numbers on the dial.
Picasso gave the watch to Greek sculptor Lela Kannellopoulou, who he called “La Belle Helene” and who he met at the Cahiers d’Art. According to a relative of Kannellopoulou, Picasso took the watch off his wrist and gave it to her in the 1960s, one of a few gifts she received from him.
Estimated at $15/22,000, the watch was one of three known examples. As the last lot in the sale, it made for an exciting countdown and finally sold for $266,978. Catherine Yaiche, director, Bonhams France who was the auctioneer of the sale, said afterwards, “This is an exceptional way to end this sale.”
Bonhams did not identify the buyer.
For additional information, www.bonhams.com.
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