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Picasso's 'The Rescue' sells for $31.5M a day after his 'Dora Maar' portrait fetches $22.5M

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A man gets a closer look at "Nympheas" by Claude Monet during an auction preview at Christie's in New York, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Works from the estates of heiress Huguette Clark, Edgar Bronfman and other major collectors are leading New York City’s spring art auctions. The sale of impressionist and modern art begins Tuesday evening at Christie’s. The auction house says it expects to raise over $245 million. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Pablo Picasso's colorful 1932 oil painting "The Rescue" sold for $31.5 million at a New York auction Wednesday, far exceeding its $14 million to $18 million estimate.

"The Rescue" led the bidding at a Sotheby's sale of impressionist and modern art. The auction house sold 50 pieces, raising about $219 million.

It was the second straight night a painting by the Cubist master changed hands for a big price. Picasso's 1942 painting of his mistress in a purple dress titled "Portrait of Dora Maar" sold Tuesday for $22.5 million at Christie's.

Henri Matisse's "Morning Session," a 1924 oil of the artist's assistant, Henriette Darricarrere, sold for $19.2 million on Wednesday.

Claude Monet's "Japanese Bridge" went for $15.8 million while his "On the Cliff at Pourville" netted $8.2 million.

Wednesday's sale featured four sculptures and an oil painting by Alberto Giacometti. His multi-figural sculpture "City Square" sold for $13 million. Another sculpture, "Woman of Venice V" fetched $8.8 million.

Sotheby's also has three works by Joan Miro that languished in a New York vault for 50 years. The Spanish artist created them for the filmmaker and photographer Thomas Bouchard and his daughter Diane.

"Untitled, 1947," depicting colorful anthropomorphic forms on a rich blue background, sold for $8 million.

The other two Miro works are set to go under the hammer at Sotheby's day sale Thursday.

The prices included the buyer's premium.

The spring auction season in New York shifted to Sotheby's after an auction Tuesday at Christie's, which featured works from the estates of heiress Huguette Clark, businessman Edgar Bronfman and other collectors.

That sale raised more than $285 million, including $27 million for a Claude Monet painting that has not been publicly exhibited since 1926.

Next week, both auction houses are offering works by postwar and contemporary artists.

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