China's Huayi Bros. Chief Buys Picasso Painting From Goldwyn Collection for $30 Million

Courtesy of Sotheby's

Is Wang Zhongjun's purchase of the painting, acquired in 1956 by Samuel Goldwyn Sr., the most potent symbol yet of the shifting plates in the global movie industry?

Chinese film mogul Wang Zhongjun, founder and CEO of Huayi Brothers, which recently signed an 18-film deal with Bob Simonds' STX Entertainment, has bought a Pablo Picasso painting for nearly $30 million from the collection of true Hollywood royalty, the Goldwyn family.

"I first fell in love with the picture and then I fell in love with the story behind it," Wang said in a statement. "The Goldwyn family is a legend in the film industry. In this painting, I can not only appreciate Pablo Picasso’s talent, but also see Samuel Goldwyn Sr.’s creative genius."

Samuel Goldwyn, the "G" in MGM, was involved in establishing the entertainment industry in Hollywood and was a key player in studios, such as Paramount as well as his own Samuel Goldwyn Pictures.

He assembled an impressive core group of works from the late 1940s through the 1960s during Hollywood’s Golden Age, according to Sotheby's, including Femme au chignon dans un fauteuil, Picasso's 1948 portrait of his lover Francoise Gilot. Goldwyn bought the painting in 1956.

Wang paid $29.9 million for it. The guide estimate was for $12 million-$18 million.

Last year, Wang, who founded Huayi Brothers with his brother Wang Zhonglei, bought a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece at Sotheby's in New York for nearly $62 million.

Huayi Bros. is China's largest private-sector film company and the Wangs, who are known in English as Dennis and James, are determined to establish a sizeable foothold in the U.S. film business.

In addition to the STX deal, the company has invested in individual films like Sony's Fury and Lionsgate's John Wick and Mortdecai. It has also set up a U.S. subsidiary.