Steve Cohen, the hedge fund impresario who just settled with the SEC, has let it be known that he recently purchased Picasso’s “Le Reve” from his friend, Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, for $150mm. Steve Wynn purchased the painting, Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, in 2001 in a private sale. It had sold at auction for $48.4mm in 1997. Not a bad rate of appreciation, no?
But, what makes this story really interesting is that this is THE same painting which Steve Wynn most famously punctured in 2006. As related by Nick Paumgarten in the New Yorker on October 23, 2006, Wynn was showing the painting to some friends, David and Mary Boies, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, Louise Grunwald, and Barbara Walters and, as he described it:
“So then I made a gesture with my right hand,” Wynn said, “and my right elbow hit the picture. It punctured the picture.” ………. Wynn turned around and saw, on Marie-Thérèse Walter’s left forearm, in the lower-right quadrant of the painting, “a slight puncture, a two-inch tear. We all just stopped. I said, ‘I can’t believe I just did that. Oh, sh*t. Oh, man.’”
The thing is, at that time, Wynn had a pending $139mm sale of the Le Reve with Cohen – the highest then known price ever paid for a painting. Wynn informed his New York art dealer, William Acquavella about the incident and Mr. Acquavella, who was arranging the sale, responded first with an emotional “Nooo!”
The accident torpedoed that art sale, but that was because Wynn ultimately pulled the piece from sale.
Fast forward to today and after some art restoration and some more time on display at Mr. Acquavella’s gallery, Mr. Cohen, still dying for the painting, reportedly paid his friend $150mm, or an additional $11mm for…. damaged goods????
Not in the eyes of the fine art world, baby!