Le Rêve (The Dream in French) is a 1932 oil painting (130 × 97 cm) by Pablo Picasso, then 50 years old, portraying his 24-year-old mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. It is said to have been painted in one afternoon, on January 24, 1932. It belongs to Picasso’s period of distorted depictions, with its oversimplified outlines and contrasted colors resembling early Fauvism.
The erotic content of the painting has been noted repeatedly, with critics pointing out that Picasso painted an erect penis, presumably symbolizing his own, in the upturned face of his model.
Le Rêve was purchased for $7,000 in 1941 by Victor and Sally Ganz of New York City. This purchase began their 50-year collection of works by just five artists: Picasso, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Eva Hesse. After the Ganzes died (Victor in 1987 and Sally in 1997), their collection, including Le Rêve, was sold at Christie’s auction house on November 11, 1997. Le Rêve sold for an unexpectedly high $48.4 million, at the time the sixth most expensive painting sold (tenth when taking inflation into account). The entire collection set a record for the sale of a private collection, bringing $206.5 million. The total amount paid by the Ganzes over their lifetime of collecting these pieces was around $2 million.
The buyer who purchased Le Rêve at Christie’s in 1997 appears to have been the Austrian-born investment fund manager Wolfgang Flöttl, who also briefly held Portrait of Dr. Gachet by Van Gogh in possession in the late 1990s. In 2001, under financial pressure, he sold Le Rêve to casino magnate Steve Wynn for an undisclosed sum, estimated to be about $60 million.