Handle with care – $100m Picasso makes a public appearance

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The Independent Culture

Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, painted by the artist in a single day in 1932, shows his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter reclining in front of a bust of herself, as rendered in distinctive blue and lilac by the Spanish master. Last May, the painting became the most expensive work ever sold at auction, passing between two private collectors for $106m (£70m) at a sale at Christie's, New York.

The painting has rarely been seen in public. Its previous owners, Los Angeles collectors Frances and Sidney Brody, exhibited it only once – in 1961 to commemorate Picasso's 80th birthday. Last May, it was sold to an anonymous purchaser, and disappeared from view once again. From today, however, the painting goes on public display for the first time at Tate Modern in London, where it will stay for at least two years in the newly named Picasso Room.

"This is an outstanding painting by Picasso and I am delighted that through the generosity of the lender we are able to bring it to the British public for the first time," said Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota. "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust is one of the sequence of paintings of Picasso's muse made by the artist at Boisgeloup, Normandy, in the early months of 1932. They are widely regarded as among his greatest achievements of the inter-war period."

The work is one of the first to openly chart Picasso's obsession with Walter, his mistress and muse; prior to this Picasso had kept their relationship a secret from his wife, Olga.