Pablo Picasso's 1905 masterpiece, Garçon a la Pipe, has sold for an astonishing $104m at Sotheby's in New York, beating by $21.5 the price paid for the previous most expensive painting, Van Gogh's Portrait of Doctor Gachet.
The painting's extraordinary price tag is no doubt due to the work's rarity. While the vast majority of Picasso's paintings depict victims of horrific genetic mutations, with noses growing on sides of faces and eyes in positions which would make accurate distance judgement impossible, Garçon a la Pipe depicts a healthy boy with only a slightly large left ear.
The boy in the painting is believed to be one of Picasso's freak seekers, paid children who sought out the most strikingly deformed subjects for the great artist. It is not known why Picasso chose to paint him on this occasion, but whatever the reason, the change in subject matter has made the recent seller of the work very happy.
While the buyer of Garçon a la Pipe has not been named, it is almost certain that a consortium of 20 million UK schoolchildren is behind the purchase. The work is expected to be shown in every school in the country over the next few years, with headmasters charging a small fee to any visitor wishing to view the masterpiece.
Soon after hearing about the sale, rap artist Tracey Eminem said she was pleased the painting had been purchased by schoolchildren. "It makes a f*#king change from them trying to sell works of art."