Lempicka portrait of her daughter sells for staggering $14mln at Christie’s auction
Sold at auction for USD 14.79 million, a work by Tamara de Lempicka doubled in value during a thrilling bidding war at a Christie’s auction.
Alternatively known as Kizette II, Kizette in Pink and Filette en rose, the portrait was put up for sale by the music mogul Jerry Moss with a recommended guide price of between USD 7 million and USD 10 million.
But going under the hammer at New York’s branch of Christie’s, a bidding war soon broke out that saw the price spiral upwards.
Despite the eyewatering figure, only now has last week’s epic sale started to make waves in Poland.
Born in Warsaw in 1898, it wasn’t until Lempicka later moved to Paris that she found her own inimitable style.
Breaking onto the world stage in 1925 following an article in Harper’s Bazaar, Kizette II was painted between 1928 and 1930 just as Lempicka was enjoying the height of her fame.
Depicting Lempicka’s daughter dressed in immaculate white colours and with an open book in her hand, according to a write-up by Christie’s “portraiture was an act of intimacy and an important function of their relationship.”
The auction house continued: “Sitting for her portrait was one of the ways that Kizette could get closer to her mother, who was famously absorbed in her work.
Despite the intimacy of the painting, their relationship beyond the canvas was at times complicated.
“As Kizette put it, ‘She had her life and I had mine. I thought that was how everyone lived. Every time she sold a painting and got some money, we would take a trip. She was such a dynamic person, and we were very close.’
She dutifully looked after her mother during her last days, and later said, ‘I’ve gone through hell and high water, Mama wasn’t easy to live with at the end.’”
A work of stunning and compelling detail, the painting presents Kizette on the cusp of adulthood, dressed formally yet with one shoe missing.
“She comes across as lackadaisical and playful — studying yet distracted,” write Christie’s. “She is still in a teenager’s body and dress but simultaneously resembles her mother.
The real world is far off, dark and angular in the background, but it is looming.”
Staggering as the most recent sale is, it is not actually – as erroneously reported by some in the Polish press – the artist’s most expensive painting.
That record was achieved in 2020 when Lempicka’s portrait of Marjorie Ferry was sold for the equivalent of PLN 82 million by London’s Christies.
Whilst this most recent sale falls short of that figure, it has highlighted the iconic artist’s lasting impact and relevance.
Julie Rubio, the director of the biopic Tamara, said: “The enormous success of this sale further strengthens her position as one of the most outstanding artists of all time.”