I was listening to the CBC radio Arts Report this morning and I’m sure that everyone who was also listening had the same reactions I had: a shake of the head, then a huge wince .
Steve Wynn, one of the richest men in the world, was in the process of selling Picasso’s Le RÃªve (the painting shown here) for the mere sum of $139 million (that’s the shake of the head. Talk about inflation…). Nora Ephron’s blog entry, My Weekend in Vegas, tells the tale:
“This is the most money ever paid for a painting,” Steve Wynn said. The price was $4 million more than Ronald Lauder had recently paid for a Klimt. Oh, that Klimt. It had set a bar, no question of that, and Wynn was thrilled to have beaten it. He invited us to come see the painting before it moved to Connecticut, never to be seen again by anyone but people who know Steven Cohen.
So up they go the next day. Wynn apparently owns the largest private art collection, with Monets, Renoirs, Warhols, Matisses. He was showing off the Picasso, explaining the significance and the provenance when he
“[…] raised his hand to show us something about the painting — and at that moment, his elbow crashed backwards right through the canvas.
There was a terrible noise.
Wynn stepped away from the painting, and there, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter’s plump and allegedly-erotic forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar – or, to be more exactly[sic], the size of the tip of Steve Wynn’s elbow — with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction.”
Okay, huge wince. The New York Post has now dubbed Wynn “The Cubist Killer”. Needless to say, the sale is off.
(For a more balanced version of the story (although all the facts are true), the New Yorker has published this article.)