Sotheby's-Nov52015Made when Picasso was just 19 years old, during his Blue Period, La Gommeuse (1901) sold, Nov. 5, at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale for $67.5 million. The painting’s owner, William Koch, had paid $3 million for the double-sided work in 1984.

Also in the Evening Sale, Van Gogh’s Paysage sous un ciel mouvemente (1889), from The Collection of Louis & Evelyn Franck, went for $54 million.

“Work such as Picasso’s shows a fearful progress in self-consciousness on the part of painting.” Jacques Maritain, 1930

Before the sale began, as guests were treated to blanc-de-blanc from Reims and “Diamonds are Forever” from Bond, one couldn’t help but feel that the Gummy Period of Western Civilization (stuck in one’s self) had reached its nadir — with today’s ‘rights’ revolutions prefigured in Picasso’s works of imperial nothingness.

“A picture used to be a sum of additions. In my case a picture is a sum of destructions.” Pablo Picasso, 1935

Photograph: Stephen Wise