A Picasso self-portrait estimated to be worth $70 million and due to go under the hammer in New York on Tuesday, has been “accidentally damaged” and withdrawn from auction, Christie’s said.
The 1943 masterpiece called “The Marin” or “The Sailor” had been a highlight of Christie’s marquee impressionist and modern evening art sale. According to US media, it belongs to former casino magnate Steve Wynn.
Christie’s said the damage happened on Friday “during the final stages of preparation.”
“After consultation with the consignor today, the painting has been withdrawn from Christie’s May 15 sale to allow the restoration process to begin,” it added.
The auction house gave no further details on the incident or the extent of the damage.
In the marketing blitz to accompany the sale, Christie’s spoke glowingly of the significance of the work and its importance on the market.
“This is a very, very special Picasso that I’ve been trying to get forever basically,” Loic Gouzer, co-chairman for postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, had told AFP.
Neither would it be Wynn’s first Picasso to come a cropper.
In 2006, the billionaire accidentally poked an elbow through Picasso’s 1932 “Le Reve,” while showing it off to guests in Las Vegas. The painting was refurbished and later reportedly sold for $155 million.
In January, Wynn was hit by accusations from dozens of people in The Wall Street Journal alleging decades of sexual misconduct.
The businessman, who is a political ally of President Donald Trump, denied the allegations and accused his ex-wife Elaine of instigating the accusations as part of a “terrible and nasty lawsuit” seeking a revised divorce settlement.
Last Tuesday, Christie’s sold Pablo Picasso’s 1905 “Fillette a la corbeille fleurie” (“Young Girl With a Flower Basket”) for $115 million, making it the Spanish master’s second most expensive work ever sold at auction.