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The Picasso work Women of Algiers (Version O) was sold for a record-breaking $179,365,000 Monday by Christie’s auction house, making it the most expensive painting ever sold.

A telephone bidding war broke out at Christie’s for Pablo Picasso’s 1955 cubist work Les femmes d’Alger, or Women of Algiers (Version O), driving the price beyond estimates that it could sell for $140 million.

Pablo Picasso is photographed in 1955, the year he completed his Women of Algiers series.

Pablo Picasso is photographed in 1955, the year he completed his Women of Algiers series.

It eventually went under the hammer at $160 million, for a final price of $179,365,000 including Christie’s commission of just over 12 percent.

The artwork beat the previous record for the most expensive painting bought at auction – Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud, which sold for $142.4 million at Christie’s in November 2013.

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The work, which was last auctioned in 1997, is believed to have been painted as a tribute to the artist’s late friend Henri Matisse, who died in 1954.

The buyers of Giacometti’s piece and Pablo Picasso’s Women of Algiers (Version O) have chosen to remain anonymous.

Also at Christie’s, British artist Peter Doig’ Swamped, a 1990 painting of a canoe in a moonlit lagoon, fetched almost $26 million (£16.6 million).

“I’ve never worked with two such beautiful objects,” said Christie’s global president, Jussi Pylkkanen, who auctioned the record-breaking artworks.

Overall, 34 of 35 lots sold for an auction total of $706 million.

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