Cohen Buys Picasso’s ‘Le Reve’ From Wynn for $155 Million

Steven Cohen, owner of SAC Capital Advisors LP, has bought Pablo Picasso’s “Le Reve” for $155 million from casino owner Steve Wynn, a person familiar with the transaction said.
March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Steven Cohen, owner of SAC Capital Advisors LP, has bought Pablo Picasso’s "Le Reve" for $155 million from casino owner Steve Wynn, a person familiar with the transaction told Bloomberg News. Betty Liu reports on Bloomberg Television's "In The Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)
Steven A. Cohen and Mary Pat Christie at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit on May 14, 2012.
Steven A. Cohen and Mary Pat Christie at the Robin Hood Foundation benefit on May 14, 2012. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg
The price is the highest paid by a U.S. collector for an artwork, art dealers told Bloomberg.
Wynn had previously agreed to sell the painting to Cohen for $139 million in 2006. The purchase was canceled after Wynn, whose vision has deteriorated owing to retinitis pigmentosa, accidentally put his elbow through the canvas. Cohen remained interested in the work for years as it was repaired.
“The restoration seems to be factored into the price,” said Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, valuation specialist and president of New York-based BSJ Fine Art. “If you didn’t know that it has been damaged, you would not see it. It’s superbly restored.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed $616 million insider-trading settlement with SAC Capital Advisors will be the subject of a hearing on March 28 in Manhattan federal court.
SAC manages $15 billion, 60 percent of which is Cohen’s and his employees’ money. Cohen is one of the world’s biggest art collectors, with works by Van Gogh, Manet, de Kooning, Picasso, Cezanne, Warhol, Johns and Richter.
Hirst Shark
Cohen, 56, started collecting art in about 2001. His taste has shifted from Impressionist to contemporary works.
An early Cohen purchase was Edouard Manet’s 1878 “Self Portrait with a Palette” from the collection of Las Vegas casino developer Wynn. Cohen later sold the work.
Cohen’s purchases have helped boost prices of artists such as Damien Hirst, whose shark-in-formaldehyde he bought for $8 million.
“Le Reve” shows Marie-Therese Walter, described in biographies as the married artist’s mistress, model and muse. For years he gave her and their daughter financial support.
The market for pictures of her surged when the 1932 “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” sold for $106.5 million -- a record for any work of art at auction -- at Christie’s International in New York in May 2010.
Sotheby’s in London also sold the 1932 “La Lecture” for 25.2 million pounds ($40.5 million) in February 2011. “Femme assise pres d’une fenetre” sold for 28.6 million pounds at Sotheby’s in London in February this year.
Married and 45, Picasso spotted Walter in 1927 on a Paris street when she was 17. She would be the artist’s greatest love for the next decade, inspiring numerous paintings and sculptures, according to John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer.
Young Mistress
“She was young, blond, sexy, round, accommodating,” said Michael Findlay, director of New York’s Acquavella Galleries, which organized “Picasso’s Marie-Therese” exhibition in 2008, said in 2011.
Most of the top Marie-Therese paintings at auction have been dated 1932, the year of Picasso’s big retrospective at Galeries Georges Petit in Paris.
The Marie-Therese period hasn’t always been considered Picasso’s finest hour, said Findlay. This changed after “Le Reve” hit the auction block as part of the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz in 1997. It sold for $48 million.
“Everyone wanted to buy the ‘The Dream,’” said Findlay. “It was a standout among the new generation of collectors,” including Francois Pinault, Bernard Arnault, Cohen and Wynn.
The new “Le Reve” sale was earlier reported by the New York Post, citing a source it didn’t identify.
The price isn’t the most paid for a work of art. In 2011, Cezanne’s “Card Players” was bought by the royal family of Qatar for more than $250 million, Vanity Fair reported.
(Richard Vines and Katya Kazakina write for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are their own.)
Muse highlights include Mark Beech on music, Martin Gayford on art, Stephanie Green’s Scene Last Night and Jeremy Gerard on U.S. theater. 

NYC art museum accused of duping visitors on admission fees

NEW YORK – Before visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art can stroll past the Picassos, Renoirs, Rembrandts and other priceless works, they must first deal with the posted $25 adult admission and the meaning of the word in smaller type just beneath it: "recommended."
Confusion over what's required to enter one of the world's great museums, which draws more than 6 million visitors a year, is at the heart of a class-action lawsuit this month accusing the New York City institution of scheming to defraud the public into believing the fees are required.
The lawsuit contends that the museum uses misleading marketing and training of cashiers to violate an 1893 New York state law that mandates the public should be admitted for free at least five days and two evenings per week. In exchange, the museum gets annual grants from the city and free rent for its building and land along pricey Fifth Avenue in Central Park.
Met spokesman Harold Holzer denied any deception and said a policy of requiring visitors to pay at least something has been in place for more than four decades. "We are confident that the courts will see through this insupportable nuisance lawsuit."
The suit seeks compensation for museum members and visitors who paid by credit card over the past few years.
"The museum was designed to be open to everyone, without regard to their financial circumstances," said Arnold Weiss, one of two attorneys who filed the lawsuit on behalf of three museum-goers, a New Yorker and two tourists from the Czech Republic. "But instead, the museum has been converted into an elite tourist attraction."
Among the allegations are that third-party websites do not mention the recommended fee and that the museum sells memberships that carry the benefit of free admission, even though the public is already entitled to free admission.
The Metropolitan Museum is one of the world's richest cultural institutions, with a $2.58 billion investment portfolio, and isn't reliant on admissions fees to pay the majority of its bills. Only about 11 percent of the museum's operating expenses were covered by admissions charges in the 2012 fiscal year. As a nonprofit organization, the museum pays no income taxes.
The Met's Holzer said the basis for the lawsuit -- that admission is intended to be free -- is wrong because the state law the plaintiffs cited has been superseded many times and the city approved pay-what-you-wish admissions in 1970.
"The idea that the museum is free to everyone who doesn't wish to pay has not been in force for nearly 40 years," Holzer said, adding, "Yes, you do have to pay something."
New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs agreed to the museum's request in 1970 for a general admission as long as the amount was left up to individuals and that the signage reflected that.
Similar arrangements are in place for other cultural institutions that operate on city-owned land and property and receive support from the city. It's also a model that's been replicated in other cities.
Holzer also noted that in the past fiscal year, 41 percent of visitors to the Met paid the full recommended admission price -- $25 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12 for students.
A random sampling of visitors leaving the museum found that there was a general awareness that "recommended" implied you could pay less than the posted price.
But Dan Larson and his son Jake, visiting the museum last week from Minnesota, were unaware there was any room to negotiate the admission price. They paid the full $25 each for adult tickets.
"My understanding was you pay the recommended price," said Larson, 50. "That's clearly not displayed."
Alexander Kulessa, a 23-year-old university student from Germany, said friends tipped him off about the admission fee.
"They said, `Don't pay $25,"' said Kulessa. "They said it will be written everywhere to pay $25, but you don't have to pay that."
For Colette Leger, a tourist from Toronto, paying the full $25 was worth it.
"It's a beautiful museum, and I was happy to pay," she said.

4-Decade-Old Art Heist Reinvestigated in Florida

On an April evening nearly 44 years ago, just days after Easter Sunday, someone slipped into a museum in Sarasota and stole 15 paintings, one portraying the resurrected Jesus and 14 depicting the Stations of the Cross.
Now, a Sarasota County Sheriff's detective is reinvestigating the decades-old disappearance of the art.
"Those paintings could be anywhere in the world," said Detective Kim McGath.
All of the paintings were done by artist, illustrator and author Ben Stahl, who died in 1987. He was well known in the 1950s and '60s for being a prolific and well-compensated illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post and for creating movie posters and book covers. "Ben Hur" and the 25th anniversary edition of "Gone With The Wind" were among the movie posters; "Madame Bovary" was one of his limited-edition book illustrations. He also one of the first professors at the Famous Artists School, a correspondence course in art once advertised on the back of matchbooks.
Stahl, who was from Chicago, wrote and illustrated "Blackbeard's Ghost," which was made into a 1968 Walt Disney film.
Commissioned to illustrate a Bible for the Catholic Press in the mid-1950s, Stahl painted the 14 Stations of the Cross. Later, he decided to paint larger versions, along with a 15th painting titled "The Resurrection," because he wanted his work to end on a positive note. All 15 paintings were 6 feet by 9 feet, and painted in oil.
In 1965, Stahl and his wife moved to Sarasota, Fla., and decided to open a museum for the large-scale paintings. Called "The Museum of the Cross," it was one of the main tourist attractions in the area at the time. He also displayed other works that he had done, some on loan from museums. Even his fellow artists were impressed.
"Those Museum of the Cross pictures are absolutely fabulous," wrote Norman Rockwell in a letter dated June 3, 1968. "The rest of us are just illustrators but you are among the masters and I am filled with admiration."
Whoever stole the paintings and other pieces of art in the predawn hours of April 16, 1969 must have known what they were doing, said McGath, because they carefully removed each of the tacks that attached the canvases to the frames.
Stahl told The Associated Press at the time that the heist was "one of the craziest art robberies of this century."
More than 50 artworks in all were stolen, including gold rosaries that Stahl and his wife had on display and had collected from their world travels.
Left behind by the burglars was "The Moment of Silent Prayer," a "miracle picture" because it also survived a fire that destroyed Chicago's convention center in 1968, Stahl said at the time.
The fact that "The Moment of Silent Prayer" and one other painting were left untouched was interesting: They were the only two paintings on loan from another museum and the only ones that were insured.
"He couldn't understand how anyone could steal from his museum, because it was like church," said his daughter, 78-year-old Gail Stahl. "I couldn't understand why he wouldn't understand why they shouldn't have been uninsured."
McGath said that no evidence points to an insurance scam or Ben Stahl's involvement. In fact, she said, he ended up in deep financial trouble following the heist.
"He put everything into that museum," McGath said. "He mortgaged his home on the museum. He lost everything."
At the time, officials said they had no clues. One officer theorized the works might be held for ransom. One witness remembered seeing a white van near the museum that night, while Stahl recalled two visitors from South America who asked odd questions in the days prior to the theft.
The trail eventually went cold, and Stahl and his family didn't think investigators were trying as hard as they could.
"It was devastating," said Regina Briskey, Ben Stahl's daughter, who was working at the museum at the time. "It was incomprehensible, because at that that time in Sarasota, there was hardly any crime."
Stahl's son, David Stahl, wrote on a website that he even contacted witnesses and possible informants around Florida, but claimed authorities didn't pay attention. David Stahl could not be reached for comment for this story.
McGath — who is also investigating the cold case of a quadruple murder in 1959 in Sarasota and its possible link to the "In Cold Blood" killers in Kansas — said she's poring over records and wants to talk to anyone who might have information about the Stahl art heist.
INTERPOL Washington is also involved. Spokeswoman Nicole Navas said this week that officials recently sent out a message to all 190 INTERPOL member countries in an attempt to renew interest in the case, which she said is one of 500 open art heist cases being investigated by the agency.
"These paintings could be anywhere," she said.
The latest investigative efforts are welcome news to Gail Stahl, an artist herself who has a gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif.
"I certainly hope that something will be accomplished," she said. "It's really quite sad that someone can go and take someone's work like that and disappear."

The art of the nap: Tilda Swinton slumbers in performance art piece at MoMA

NEW YORK — It’s not the kind of performance that will win her another Academy Award, but Tilda Swinton certainly has them buzzing at the Museum of Modern Art.
But keep it down, please. She’s trying to sleep.

The “Moonrise Kingdom star has been engaging in a different kind of performance art. She’s presenting a one-person piece called “The Maybe,” in which she lies sleeping in a glass box for the day. The first performance was over the weekend, and the museum won’t say if there’s a schedule for when exactly it will come back for six other performances.
On Monday, the display drew a line of spectators that wound through a whole second-floor gallery into a museum hallway.
Erwin Aschenbrenner, a bemused German tourist, said it “just what you’d expect to see at MoMA.”
The actress “is so pale and not moving in there that she looks like she’s dead,” said Robbie von Kampen, 20, a philosophy major at Bard College, north of New York City.
But after about seven hours a day of the shuteye pose on a white mattress in the glass box — with only a carafe of water and a glass to get her through — Swinton can stretch and walk off into the Manhattan night. But only when spectators leave.
So what’s the point?
“This makes me think about myself, looking at her,” said Quinn Moreland, 20, also a Bard student, majoring in art history.
“You don’t usually get to stare at somebody like this; it makes me self-conscious,” she explained.
Added von Kampen, “Yeah, it’s socially unacceptable — it’s kinda creepy.”
No one, not even museum curators, could say whether the thin, mostly immobile Swinton is actually getting some sleep while people stare at her.
At least Swinton was comfortable. She wore a pair of grubby sneakers, dark sporty slacks and a checkered shirt. Her glasses lay on the mattress.
But no snacks were in sight. And none could be offered in the closed chamber.
Swinton also starred in a glass box in 1995 at London’s Serpentine Gallery — seven days, eight hours a day — in an exhibition seen by 22,000 people.
The next year, she repeated the spectacle at the Museo Barracco in Rome.

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore,
Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly;
Twenty-eight years of womanly life and all so lonesome.

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank,
She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you,
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather,
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten'd with wet, it ran from their long hair,
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies,
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do not ask who seizes fast to them,
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch,
They do not think whom they souse with spray.

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

Victorine Contemporary Art in Newport

Marc Harrold
Artexpo New York

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Brigit Nihan
Victorine Contemporary
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Newport RI 02840