Casino mogul Steve Wynn’s bad luck with Pablo Picasso goes on as a $70 million painting, “Le Marin,” was damaged and withdrawn from a Christie’s sale. The Picasso self-portrait had been scheduled to be included in Christie’s May 15 Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in New York. Wynn was originally due to sell art valued at $150 million, including works by Picasso and Andy Warhol.
Wynn famously suffered a similar mishap with a Picasso in 2006.
Christie’s put out a statement last night saying the work “was accidentally damaged Friday during the final stages of preparation for Christie’s May 12-15 exhibition. Two outside conservators have now been consulted and have made recommendations for the successful restoration of the painting. After consultation with the consignor today, the painting has been withdrawn from Christie’s May 15 sale to allow the restoration process to begin. Christie’s has a very high standard of care for the objects entrusted to us and we have taken immediate measures to remedy the matter in partnership with our client. No further information is available at this time.”
The oil-on-canvas work, executed on October 28, 1943, has long been seen among Picasso’s most celebrated self-images, with the artist wearing one of his famous striped fisherman’s jerseys. It was formerly in the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz and later bought by Wynn. It changed hands in 1997 for less than $10 million.
The circumstances of the latest incident are unknown. It comes nearly 12 years after Wynn accidentally put his elbow through another Picasso, “Le Reve,” while showing it in his Las Vegas workplace. It was restored and the hedge fund tycoon Steve Cohen purchased it for $155 million in 2013.
Last week Christie’s withdrew another Picasso, “Femme au chat assise dans un fauteuil,” which is also reported to have been owned by Wynn.
Wynn, 76, stepped down this year as chief executive of Wynn Resorts after allegations of sexual harassment, which he has denied. The billionaire also quit as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He has since sold his stake in Wynn Resorts.
Wynn had put some of his works on show in Wynn properties and talked of his holdings so there was no doubt of their ownership.
People with knowledge of the provenance of the works confirmed the sales to Blouin Artinfo. A spokeswoman for Christie’s told Blouin Artinfo: “As a matter of policy Christie’s does not identify buyers or sellers by name without permission.” No spokesman could immediately be reached for a comment from Wynn.
Founder Louise Blouin