By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A 1932 portrait by Pablo Picasso of his young lover and a pioneering 3-D Andy Warhol painting of the Statue of Liberty are expected to sell for at least $35 million each, but could fetch much more when they are auctioned next month.
The two works, Picasso's "Nature morte aux tulipes," and Warhol's "Statue of Liberty" will be the highlights of New York autumn sales at Sotheby's and Christie's.
The Picasso masterpiece is one of several renderings of his muse Marie-Thérèse Walter and considered by art experts to be one of his most important works. It carries a pre-sale estimate from $35 million to up to $50 million ahead of the November 5 sale at Sotheby's.
"The young woman, with her Grecian profile and athletic, statuesque frame, inspired Picasso's greatest achievements in a variety of media," said Simon Shaw, Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department in New York.
"Nature morte aux tulipes is exceptional within the series for its double-meditation on this subject, demonstrating the influence of Surrealism on his output: the artist builds a sculpture of Marie-Thérèse, and then paints that sculpture as a sexually-charged still life, allowing him to dissect her form on many levels," he added in a statement.
Marie-Thérèse, who was just 17 years old when she met the already married Picasso, featured in many of his works and bore him a daughter in 1935.
Another painting of her, "Femme à la fenêtre" from 1936, will also be included in the Sotheby sale with a pre-sale estimate of up to $20 million.
"Nu au Plateau de Sculpteur" a 1932 painting of Marie-Thérèse was sold to anonymous buyer at a 2010 auction for $106.5 million.
The sale of the Picasso portraits coincides with a new exhibition of the works of the renowned Spanish artist at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
ICON OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
The following week, on November 14, Warhol's "Statue of Liberty," will go under the hammer at Christie's. It is the first of its kind in 3-D and the only example of the artist's experimentation with the technique still privately owned.
A child of immigrants, Warhol painted the red and green work showing multiple misaligned images of the iconic landmark in 1962 as a prelude to his Death and Disaster series, according to Christie's.
"Andy Warhol's 'Statue of Liberty' is one of the most important statements on America and on painting in the 1960s," said Brett Gorvy, the chairman and international head of Post-War and Contemporary Art.
"It is a famous icon of the American dream, alongside Warhol's most popular American subjects such as the Coca-Cola bottle, the Campbell's soup-cans and his Marilyns and Elvis."
Two other paintings from the 3-D series are part of museum collections in Switzerland and Pittsburgh.
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts announced last month that it would sell paintings, photos and other works by the pop artist in a series of auctions, private sales and online. Proceeds from the sales will be used to help the foundation expand its support of the visual arts.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Marguerita Choy)