Granddaughter of Picasso Sells Art, Worrying Auctions

By Kevin Belanger,
Domestic News Writer

If you want to own a Picasso painting but don’t have the time to outbid millionaires at Sotheby’s Auction House, you may be in luck. Marina Picasso, one of Picasso’s numerous heirs and grandchildren, plans to sell many of the famed artist’s works to individuals one by one, rather than through an auction house.

She plans to meet prospective buyers in Geneva to conduct transactions. She reportedly is in possession of 300 paintings as well as over 10,000 sketches, drawings, and sculptures. After the sale of two pieces for a total of 6.8 million dollars in 2013, Ms. Picasso decided that she could generate more funding for her charities by selling on a piece by piece basis. Ms. Picasso’s charities include an orphanage in Vietnam. She has also contributed 1.7 million dollars to the Hospital Foundation of Paris and France, according to the New York Times.

In 2001, Ms. Picasso published a memoir “Picasso: My Grandfather,” which detailed her anger towards the famed artist. When the artist died in 1973, she was named an heir to his fortune, receiving one-fifth of his estate.

However, she has stated that she has turned all of her grandfather’s paintings backwards in her home and has kept her distance from his other heirs and family. Unlike other heirs to the Picasso fortune, Ms. Picasso has been especially eager to sell Picasso’s works, both to raise money for charity and to help her let go of her stormy past with her grandfather.

She has already decided that the first painting she will sell is entitled “La Famille,” which depicts six family members standing in a desert. She told the New York Times that “It’s symbolic because I was born in a great family, but it was a family that was not a family.” According to Enrique Mallen, an art history professor at Sam Houston State University, Ms. Picasso is the only heir who is “accelerating” the process of selling Picasso’s work. Mallen is the founder of the Online Picasso Project, which aims to track the sale of Picasso’s works around the world.

According to the New York Times, art sellers risk losing money by selling without the aid of an auction house. Often, auction houses can help dealers verify funding for buyers and also help find the best buyers.

However, John Richardson, a New York based Picasso historian believes that widespread desire to own Picasso’s works will generate enough interest among buyers.

Patrick Legant, a former employee of Sotheby’s expressed doubt that Ms. Picasso would be able to sell all of her entire collection of Picasso works but did believe that she had ways of finding buyers interested in buying them. He also stated that buyers may be drawn to the allure of purchasing Picasso’s original works personally from his granddaughter.

Business Insider reports that the art dealing community is largely worried about Ms. Picasso’s decision. The community fears that if she sells her collection too quickly the market will be over-supplied and prices will fall. Auction houses and dealers also collect sizeable fees in exchange for helping to connect buyers and sellers.

Given that Ms. Picasso’s estate is estimated to be worth 290 million dollars, the community of auction houses and private dealers stand to miss out on a potentially large windfall.

Melanie Gerlis, the author of “Art as Investment,” expressed doubt that prices would drop significantly because the art will not be sold all at once and because she believes there is a healthy market for Picasso’s work.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Feb. 10th print edition.

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