How to Buy a Picasso Cheap
Las Vegas magnate Steve Wynn was just about to sell his Picasso, "Le Rêve," to financier Steven Cohen for $139 million, when he accidentally poked his elbow through it. These things happen. A cleaning woman in my employ once used a lot of elbow grease and Windex to get the signature off a Pruitt and Early that belonged to me. But at least in my case Nora Ephron wasn't there to write about it—scotching a megabucks art deal. I still have the work, and once I get Rob and Jack in the same place I'm getting it resigned, in case it ever gets up to nine figures.
But it's too bad about that wild elbow. I think Steve was right to sell that Picasso. He's just too active to own a painting that valuable and fragile. And now poor Steve is suing poor insurer Lloyd's of London over what he says is $54 million dollars damage to the painting, which is now worth a paltry $85 mil.
I've decided that until my kid is grown up I'm not buying any more Picassos or ceramics. But there are plenty of alternatives. Hotelier Ian Schrager has lots of Picasso-type paintings in his swank Gramercy Park Hotel, and unlike the Warhols and the Twombly they aren't behind plexi, because they were painted by Julian Schnabel.
If you can find a Picasso by Schnabel, I guarantee it will run you a lot less than a penny on the dollar Mr. Cohen was ready to fork over for "The Dream." In fact, if you act fast and head on over to Sotheby's on February 26th for the Contemporary Art sale, you can bid on Mike Bidlo's "The Dream," which is estimated at only $20,000 to $30,000. A steal! Here is Bidlo's painting:
Mike Bidlo's version, which I guarantee you looks a lot better than the above photo, is dated 1932 and 1987 (two dates for the price of one), and according to Sotheby's it's in good overall condition. Mike's work is really excellent. When he was doing Pollocks he really got into character and re-enacted the maestro pissing in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace. And he did his Warhol oxidation paintings with real urine. When you're going for appropriation you want an appropriate appropriator, and Mr. Bidlo is the best of them. If I had the kind of money Mr. Cohen is throwing around I'd pick up the more recent "dream," and spend the leftover $138,970,000 on young artists and some signed first editions of Nora Ephron. What with terrorism and cocktail parties I'd pretty much rather have a Bidlo. If Wynn had the Bidlo and the Picasso, he could have poked his elbow through the Bidlo and avoided all that financial agony.
I used to be very jealous of the large Jackson Pollock by Mike Bidlo that Richard Marshall used to have in his office. It was stunning, a good enough painting to fool all but the most expert viewers, and if somebody started shooting you wouldn't be tempted to throw yourself in front of it.