NEW YORK, March 25 (UPI) -- A Pablo Picasso painting of scantily clad women valued at $140 million could break the record for the highest price ever fetched by a piece of art at auction.
The painting, "Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O')," is heading to auction May 11 at Christie's auction house in New York.
The famed Spanish painter completed the piece as part of his 1954-55 series inspired by 19th century French artist Eugene Delacroix. Les femmes d'Alger was the final work of that series and was also considered an homage to fellow artist Henri Matisse, a contemporary.
"Les femmes d'Alger, (Version 'O')" is the culmination of a herculean project which Picasso started after Matisse's death, in homage to his lost friend and competitor, and which over a period of two months and after nearly 100 studies on paper and 14 other paintings led to the creation of this phenomenal canvas in February 1955," said Olivier Camu, deputy chairman, impressionist and modern art with Christie's.
"One can arguably say that this is the single most important painting by Picasso to remain in private hands. Its sale on 11 May will be a watershed moment in the market for 20th century art."
The painting is valued at about $34 million more than ever fetched for a Picasso painting. "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" sold for about $106.5 million at an auction at Christie's in 2010.
It has the potential to set a record for the most ever paid for a piece of art at auction. Last year, a 1969 triptych by Francis Bacon, "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," sold for a whopping $142.4 million, setting the current record.
"From the auctioneer's rostrum it has become clear that the many new global collectors chasing masterpieces have been waiting for an iconic Picasso to appear on the market. None is more iconic than Les femmes d'Alger. The sale on Monday 11 May promises to be a sale to remember," Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie's Global President said.