Yesterday, when the news of the Gagosian lawsuit broke, the inbox lit up with comments. It is always interesting to hear your perspectives on art, art values and dealmaking. So feel free to get in touch.
One particularly sharp observer sent in this comment:
A piece such as this, you just put it up at auction, with the Picasso provenance attached to it, the fact that it is probably the one and only sculpture of the series still in private hands, etc, and you get 150m$ for it in November 2014.
Which raises an interesting question about the whole affair. What would have been the best timing and venue for maximizing the value of the Buste de Femme? Connery, Pissarro & Seydoux approached Maya Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso in late 2014 to secure the sale of Buste de Femme for €38m.
During that auction season, Giacometti’s Chariot and Modigliani’s Tete made $100m and $70m respectively.
When Diana Widmaier Picasso learned of the sale by her mother, she reminded her that Gagosian had already claimed to receive offers in excess of $100m. She then tried to unwind the initial sale and went to Gagosian who quickly offered to buy the work outright for $105.8m.
It’s telling that Gagosian was eager to purchase the work himself instead of brokering a deal. The dealer would surely be anticipating a profit in excess of a 15% which pushes the purchase price above $125m.
Indeed, with so many eager buyers, it would seem the easiest solution to the situation would be to put the work up for auction in May and see what the market will bear. But has that moment passed? Our correspondent is specific that the $150m price was achievable in 2014, probably in 2015 as well as Giacometti’s Pointing Man made $141m and a Picasso painting set the record for any work at auction.
In 2016, would the buste benefit from the dearth of nine-figure works on the market or suffer from the feeling that the market is pulling back in 2016 as the broader world economy retrenches?