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May 04, 2006

How Much Would You Pay for a Picasso?

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards:

Today's hottest art news is that Picasso's 1941 portrait of Dora Maar was auctioned at $95 million. Here's what this masterpiece looks like:

Picasso - Dora Maar.jpg
"Dora Maar with cat"

Maar was his mistress when Picasso made the painting.

According to a Reuters report, Sotheby's expected it to go for around $40 million. The report does not mention who bought the painting, but notes that another Picasso, "Boy with a pipe" holds the auction record at $104 million.

Now for the fun part, art fans.

Pretend that the artist wasn't Picasso -- actually, an unknown. Assuming you were rich enough that buying any painting involved pocket change, just how much would you pay to have it hanging on your living room wall?



posted by Donald at May 4, 2006


Oh I dunno...the cat looks kinda cute...

Posted by: Tatyana on May 4, 2006 11:24 AM

Not a penny. I wouldn't have it in my house.

Posted by: Lexington Green on May 4, 2006 11:27 AM

I'd pay good money to *not* have it hang in my house.

Posted by: Peter on May 4, 2006 11:29 AM

You'd definitely have to pay me to hang that thing up.

Posted by: . on May 4, 2006 11:35 AM

$10,000, just to be nice to the artist.

Then I'd put it in my pity gallery..

Posted by: Andrew Yen on May 4, 2006 11:49 AM

Imagine having to walk by that every morning on your way to the breakfast table.

Posted by: Bill on May 4, 2006 11:56 AM

I like the idea of a "pity gallery"! That's where my own attempts at handmade-visual-art and photography would hang.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 4, 2006 12:42 PM

It looks like a "Night Gallery" painting. Remember "Night Gallery?" Rod Serling? Way back. Seventy-five bucks. No, no, fifty. Yeah, fifty.

Posted by: Flutist on May 4, 2006 1:06 PM

Apart from the obvious issues of scale, the cat looks relatively normal; as if painted by an artist from a different school of art, like, er, the kids school.

Posted by: american erewhon-ist on May 4, 2006 1:59 PM

What are the dimensions and will it come nicely framed, say in cherry and walnut trim?
I have a wall in the kitchen that seems to have been used to test the readiness of pasta. It's a 36 x 24 inch space. Would this painting cover the mess?

Seriously, though, any painting above $1m is beyond my level of comprehension/appreciation save for investing purposes. Beauty and eye of the beholder and all that stuff...what's the $95m buyer see in this particular Picasso?

Posted by: DarkoV on May 4, 2006 2:04 PM

I have to admit I guffawed quite rudely when I saw it just now. Couldn't help myself. Put a bag over her head!

Posted by: Brian on May 4, 2006 2:26 PM

If my boyfriend painted me like that, I would have serious doubts about the future of the relationship. I can't imagine spending any money on it.

Posted by: annette on May 4, 2006 2:49 PM

I always wonder, when hearing these prices, how much is the Sistine Chapel worth?

Anyway, what cat? I doan see no stinkin cat.

Posted by: al on May 4, 2006 7:09 PM

Oh, I see it now! Cute cat.

Posted by: al on May 4, 2006 7:10 PM

Maar was his mistress when Picasso made the painting.
She looked like that? Pablo was a drinker, then?
I like the picture, although as I come from the 'I don't know much about Art, but I know what I like' school of art, I don't know that my support is worth much. I'd give you..., say $101. (ebay buyers tip: always make your maximum bid slightly higher than a round number.)

Posted by: Dirk Thruster on May 5, 2006 4:36 AM

The painting is destined to enter the collection of a public museum. Such institutions have endowments that generate huge sums; some of this money is available for new acquisitions. Since the institution never dies and its collections are never dispersed, the painting vanishes permanently from the marketplace. Result? The next "major" work gets the same high price, and the process continues. In short, the people who run the museums are responsible for the high prices. And the guy who paid all that money for the Picasso is not throwing his money away: he will get it back, with interest.

Posted by: Elliott Banfield on May 5, 2006 5:19 AM

Whenever any significant work by a major artist (whatever the style, era or aesthetic) sells at auction for a record or near record price, it is SOOOOO easy to be dismissive of the entire enterprise. Given that the market for well known works by major artists is limited to the likes of Bill Gates et al the question "What would you pay for it?" is a bit off the mark. You also should factor in how many millions might you want to have in stocks, bonds, real estate, jewelry, art, antiques, etc. to have a well balanced asset management portfolio.

If I were Bill Gates and could bid on works by Picasso I would probably have dropped out of the bidding around $35-50 million, aiming for the middle of his auction history price range and hoping I could pick up a well known and regarded piece within that range. Historically, piece that go for record prices are not very good investments from a financial standpoint, although they do add support to the price structure for the artist's overall market.

Given that the dominant aesthetic among many of the commentators on 2 blowhards is dismissive of most paintings that are not fairly tight realism would you spend $5 million for a 14" x 20"
Winslow Homer watercolor?

Posted by: Chris White on May 5, 2006 10:29 AM

It's ugly and weird, but definitely intriguing. A lot of modern art (Jackson Pollack) looks like incoherent glop - this looks like _something_. It has design and actual workmanship. I wouldn't pay anything for it, but I wouldn't sneer at someone else who wanted it.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on May 6, 2006 4:06 AM

I am only willing to pay half of my miserable salary, though; I would still pay half if my salary is a corporate ceo's figure. I think itís a relative matter. The painting do have certain intriguing and haunting quality.

BUT I won't hang it in my house for I have no affection to the person of this portrait. Besides, it is quite ugly. I really mean it is ugly. I don't think Picasso really ever love Dora Marr. She was probably just a tool to his exploration in cubism. I mean nobody would paint a person he really loves with such distortion.

The figure with the hat, the cat, and those long sharp nails looked more like a witch to me.

look fr studio LDA

Posted by: look on May 6, 2006 5:18 AM

In order to properly understand the insanity of Modern Art glop, and the outrageous prices paid for such glop, you have to put yourself into a totally different mindset. Throw those old notions of Quality out the window. Now, substitute in modern advertising techniques. Modern Art is really Modern Advertising. You find a team of "experts" with impressive sounding credentials to lend creedence to your ugly glop paintings (4 out of 5 experts recommend Picasso to their patients who buy paintings), target the wealthy, but unsophisticated buyer, and then sell them on how the painting makes them, the BUYER look! Self-esteem! You are such a good, moral, and perspicacious art-lover! And handsome too! Add in the madness of (elite, wealthy) crowd behavior, and viola, you got yourself a Modern Art/Advertising juggernaut. Still crazy after all these years!

Don't wait! Get your ugly glop/painted square paintings now, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Posted by: JJ on May 10, 2006 1:13 PM

How much would you pay for this Andy Warhol? Check this out...

Posted by: winifer skattebol on May 10, 2006 2:28 PM

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