The Daily Beast has a good story explaining the gamble Steve Wynn took bidding on Rembrandt’s Man with Arms Akimbo that benefited from Barbara Johnson’s unwillingness to have the picture loaned out to prospective buyers:
“Steve got a great deal, no doubt about it, and the reason he did is largely due to me,” said Otto Naumann, one of New York’s foremost dealers. “I made a mistake not bidding on that painting, plain and simple.” […] “I looked at the painting for hours, trying to imagine how the face would look after cleaning,” Naumann said. “It seemed so flat and dull and lacking any color. Under magnification, I could see only a bit of pink near the edges of cracks. I never imagined that a thin veil of pink glaze existed over the entire passage, then hidden by a yellow varnish.” […] The painting, which Wynn bought sight-unseen, was then cleaned by noted New York restoration expert Nancy Krieg. Krieg’s husband, George Goldner, the curator of Old Masters and the chairman of the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, believes the piece cleaned up well.
“It’s a very, very good picture by one of the great artists,” Goldner said. “I felt more positively about it at the time of the sale than many people did. I admit when it was cleaned, I thought it looked great.”
Agreed Naumann: “It was a gamble, paying the reserve like that. But he’s a lucky man. I expect he knows this by now.”
Steve Wynn Reveals Details of His $33 Million Rembrandt (Daily Beast)