View of the good, the bad, and the in-between from Pattaya and beyond
Friday, June 28, 2013
Picasso No Sale
Over the last few years Richie Boy has sold a Mr. Dithers a few diamonds with hopes of scoring big with the Washingtonian financier. I became friends with Dithers after he learned that I knew Jean-Michel Basquiat. I recounted about having my girlfriend erase his painting from my refrigerator.
"I wasn't the only one to do something stupid."
An art restorer had given a Basquiat to her new boyfriend as a birthday present. They broke up shortly thereafter. I didn't tell Dithers this tale. The New York art scene is very small.
Over the past three years Dithers and I have collaborated on attempted sales of an antique Roman bust and a Claudio Bravo without success.
Mr. Dithers is no salesman and I doubted whether he had real control over either piece.
Upon hearing this Spring that I was looking for a Picasso in the $15 million range, Dithers surprised me by coming up with a cubist painting from the 50s.
"Its owner are Italian and need money."
"Everyone in Italy needs money."
"Same as us."
The portrait's provenance had an impeccable lineage and Vonelli, my London client was eager to buy it, however Dithers had trouble producing the painting.
"The couple want to see the results of the auctions," explained Dithers.
"That's not good news." The hammer would only increase the price and cut into my commission.
"We'll see what happens." Dithers cautioned for patience, however nothing did happen and this week I discovered the reason upon reading a BBC online article about the US government blocking the sale of a more expensive painting owned by an Italian couple who had been charged with embezzlement of millions of Euros from the city of Naples.
"Is this the same couple?"
"Maybe." Dithers wasn't saying yes or no over the phone.
"Then it's another dead deal." I had thought the same since early May.
That evening I phoned Vonelli and told him the news.
"Well, that's good luck I didn't buy it."
"You'd have to get me my money and the FBI aren't into refunds."
"I certainly don't want to speak with them."
"None of us do."
Vonelli hung up. He was on his way to his summer house in Belgium.
I had hoped for the Picasso commish to buy a ticket to Thailand.
My kids miss me.
Something has to happen soon.
It always does.