Monday, October 16, 2006

The Relative Economics of Portraiture, No. 2

Careful readers will be familiar with my theory that portraiture, long-term, is the best category of fine-arts painting in which to practice. The proof being, in part, that four or five of the most expensive paintings of all time (depending on whether you count your money as corrected for inflation or as absolute) are portraits.

Enter Picasso's Le Reve (1932):

A portrait of Marie-Therese Walter--one of my favorite Picasso girls--it is notorious because the upper section of her bisected head is clearly a penis, although the wag in me wonders if Picasso ever saw "Snakes on a Plane."

Currently the property of Las Vegas hotel king Steve Wynn, he recently agreed to sell Le Reve to that Steven Cohen guy in Connecticut for 139 million bucks. This is not only a serious bunch of dough, but also lends a certainly poignancy to my recently announced restaurant workers' sale (portraits for $1,500).

As Steve Wynn would say, "It's all about scale." Clearly I need to get on his scale.

Anyway, back to the story: Wynn was set to deliver the painting to Cohen when, during a "farewell" gathering of buddies in his office to take one last gander at the thing, he accidentally punched the tip of his elbow through it.

The mind reels. The rest of the story is good clean fun too. I first read Nora Ephron's version on the Huffington Post. You can also read a similar recounting in the New Yorker by Nick Paumgarten.

Once I'm done with Woman With Wristwatch--or, more accurately, when it is done with me--I may turn my attention to Le Reve. My friend Eric says you need to do these things in series.


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