It was a story picked up by every wire service–and posted here. A Picasso painting had been offered by the son of a former Iraqi soldier and valued at $450,000. Security forces arrested the man and “experts” examined the painting to declare its true value at $10m. The picture is signed and has stamps from the Kuwait National Museum and markings suggesting it had come from the Louvre at one point. The Times of London has an image of the heavily damaged painting.
That’s when the whole story started to unravel. The Louvre has never owned a Picasso. None of the Picasso experts have ever seen work painted in this style.
The Art Loss Register in London said that it had no record of paintings missing from the Kuwait National Museum and no record of this painting as missing at all. The Picasso Museum in Paris and the French national museum were searching their archives for the painting.
John Richardson, the author of A Life of Picasso, said: “Picasso did all kinds of funny things when he was a child but they don’t look like this. In his youth he did paint a number of academic nudes but they are completely different in character and style. It just doesn’t look like him in any single respect.”
The painting will be examined in Baghdad. The security official hinted that the Prime Minister’s office had more information on looted artwork and could swoop again soon.