Picasso portrait of his lover lures nearly $45M at auction

File photo dated Jan. 31, 2013 shows gallery assistants hanging Picasso's "Femme Assise Pres d'une Fenetre" (Woman Sitting Near a Window), which sold for nearly $45 million at auction on Feb. 5, 20123. It is a portrait of his "golden muse," Marie-Therese Walter.
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LONDON A Picasso painting of his muse has fetched $44.9 million at a London auction.

The 1932 work, "Femme Assise Pres d'une Fenetre (Woman Sitting Near a Window)," is a portrait of the artist's "golden muse," Marie-Therese Walter.

Picasso first met his muse in Paris in 1927, when she was 17 years old, and the pair subsequently became lovers.

Helena Newman, who heads Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department in Europe, called the painting a "stunning and monumental portrait" from one of the most celebrated periods in Picasso's life.

She added Tuesday that there has been a strong market for Picasso's portraits of Walter among collectors in recent years.

Another portrait, "La Lecture," sold for 25 million pounds in 2011, double its pre-sale estimate.