We now have, from court papers and Katya Kazakina’s reporting, Gagosian’s side of the fight over Picasso’s Buste de Femme sculpture which was the centerpiece of MoMA’s Picasso and Sculpture show. It reveals that yesterday’s action came in response to several attempts by the previous buyer, Pelham Europe to stop the sale to Gagosian:
Gagosian says ownership of the work was passed to him Oct. 2, when he made a third payment bringing the total he gave Maya Widmaier-Picasso and the granddaughter to $79.7 million, or 75 percent of the agreed purchase price. Pelham has threatened to have the piece removed from the museum, as it asserts its claim, Gagosian said.
Pelham keeps making threats and is trying to gain ownership in other ways, including suing Widmaier-Picasso in Switzerland, Gagosian said. Pelham also asked a French court to seize the work after the New York show closes, Gagosian said. And, Pelham sued in Manhattan in November seeking evidence from Gagosian about the sculpture’s sale.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods directed Gagosian on Dec. 23 to turn over any documents he had about his negotiations over the purchase of the sculpture. He has until Feb. 29 to complete the production of the documents. Both Gagosian and Diana Widmaier-Picasso will have to answer questions under oath about the sale by April 1, according to court documents.
Bust of a Woman Displayed at MOMA, Disputed in N.Y. Court (Bloomberg Business)