Sotheby's has announced the forthcoming sale of a modern masterpiece, believed lost for over 85 years.
Nu adossé I, by the pioneering Polish artist Tamara de Lempicka, was last seen in 1925, when it appeared in her groundbreaking exhibition at Milan's Bottegia di Poesia gallery. Soon afterwards the painting disappeared; it remained lost until last year when Sotheby's was contacted by the current owner who had acquired it years earlier without realising its importance.
Tamara de Lempicka is regarded as one of the most influential artists of the art deco period, and the first female artist to become a true star. She was part of the bohemian artistic scene in Paris in the 1920s, and her contemporaries included Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau.
The painting will appear on the market during an exciting period for de Lempicka's work. The past 12 months have seen interest in her paintings surge, and record prices paid by collectors. Her 1930 work La dormeuse sold at Sotheby's in June 2011 for a world record price of $6.6m, smashing its high estimate of just over $5m.
Just five months later the record was broken again, when Sotheby's sold her 1927 painting Le rêve for $8.5m in November 2011. That's an increase of 28% in just five months, which clearly demonstrates the growing market for her work.
With Nu adossé I considered lost for close to a century, the forthcoming Sotheby's sale on May 2 in New York presents a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors. And as the past 12 months have demonstrated, bidders are more than happy to pay record prices for her most sought-after works.