Punching Picasso

picasso-wynn.jpgRobin Williams once said that cocaine was God’s way of saying you were making too much money. That was during the 80s. Now, 20 years later, God is finding more dramatic ways of making this point:

A US casino mogul has pulled out of a deal to sell his Picasso painting for a record $139m (£74m) after accidentally elbowing a hole in the middle.

Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn was showing Le Reve (The Dream) to guests at his office in Las Vegas last month.

Mr Wynn, who has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease affecting peripheral vision, tore a coin-sized hole.

He will now keep the painting, which he bought in 1997 for $48.4m, and repair it, his spokeswoman said.

Mr Wynn had finalised the sale of the 1932 painting to art collector Steven Cohen.

The $139m price tag would have been $4m higher than the previous private-sale record – for Gustav Klimt’s 1907 portrait, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, in July this year.

Picasso’s Boy With a Pipe, which fetched $104.1m in 2004, holds the record for art sold at auction.

Mr Wynn, known for gesturing with hands while speaking, was showing the painting at his office at Wynn Las Vegas when he struck it with his right elbow, spokeswoman Denise Randazzo said.

Director and screenwriter Nora Ephron was at the incident and wrote about it on a blog site.

She said Mr Wynn raised his hand then “at that moment, his elbow crashed backward right through the canvas. There was a terrible noise”.

“Smack in the middle… was a black hole the size of a silver dollar. ‘Look what I’ve done’ he said. ‘Thank goodness it was me.'”

Mr Wynn, a high-profile art collector, developed The Mirage and Bellagio resorts in Las Vegas in the 1990s.

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