Source: Page Six, Bloomberg, Barron's Penta, Palm Beach Daily News and ArtNet News.
On May 15, casino mogul Steve Wynn was set to launch his new career as an art dealer with three high-profile paintings slated for sale at a Christie’s auction. But when a carelessly placed contractor’s paint roller extension pole fell and punctured the lower right corner of one of those masterpieces—Picasso’s self-portrait, “Le Marin”—the day took a dramatically different turn, one that reportedly left Wynn “incandescent.”
Pillsbury partner Michael Kosnitzky, a long-time adviser to Wynn, told Page Six, “To say that Mr. Wynn is upset is an extreme understatement. This was clearly an act of gross negligence on the part of Christie’s employees.”
Ironically, the incident was not the first in which one of the billionaire’s Picassos was damaged. In 2006, Wynn was on the verge of selling the artist’s “La Rêve” to hedge-fund manager and art collector Steve Cohen for $139 million when he accidentally put his elbow through it. The work was fixed and eventually sold to Cohen for $155 million.
Speaking with Barron’s Penta, Kosnitzky noted that Wynn, “having gone through this before in terms of damage, in terms of insurance issues and repairs, is a sophisticated business person, and he made sure he was properly protected when he entered into his contract with Christie’s.”
Restorers and loss adjusters are surveying the damage to “Le Marin,” but the possibility remains that the piece may be beyond repair. Prior to the incident, the work was expected to fetch in excess of $100 million.
“We hope and anticipate that the painting can be properly restored,” Kosnitzky told Page Six. “We also hope this matter can be amicably resolved with Christie’s.”
In a subsequent interview with Bloomberg, he added, “There may be a debate among art and insurance experts for some time, but Mr. Wynn’s new art dealership expects to be fully compensated for the cost and time to repair the painting, and the diminution in its value, following this flagrant act of gross negligence by Christie’s staff.”