The Weekend Wall Street Journal devotes three full pages to a piece chronicling the quest by one of Pablo Picasso’s granddaughters to catalogue the more than 2000 sculptures created by the 20th Century’s greatest artist.
A PICASSO HEIR’S EPIC HUNT
Diana Widmaier-Picasso is researching a new inventory of her grandfather’s sculptures that could ignite prices and add tens of millions of dollars to the Picasso market. So why is the family not helping more?
The heirs of Pablo Picasso keep a family office in an unassuming Parisian building near Place Vendôme, behind a tall wooden door wedged between a bistro and a travel agency. Inside, up a creaky gated elevator, the artist’s descendants gather in a row of book-lined rooms to take stock of their empire—including a trove of Picassos and several million dollars a year in related resale and licensing fees.
Two blocks away, another member of the family—Diana Widmaier-Picasso, the artist’s granddaughter via his blonde mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter—is quietly building her own realm in a chic, white atelier formerly used by fashion designer Valentino Garavani. Ms. Widmaier-Picasso, 39 years old, said the art research she is doing there falls under the umbrella of the family firm, but in many ways it also stands apart.
For the past decade, Ms. Widmaier-Picasso has been researching a new catalogue raisonné, or scholarly inventory, of her grandfather’s sculptures, and she is hoping to publish its first volume in a couple of years to coincide with a major Picasso exhibit she is planning for Paris’s Grand Palais.
What follows is a combination of detective story, bildungsroman, and family feud.
Picasso’s most coveted paintings sell for as much as $106.5 million. His sculptures are “arguably the only undervalued segment of [his] oeuvre . . . Picasso’s bronze record-holder is a 1941 bust of his mistress Dora Maar that sold at Sotheby’s six years ago for $29.1 million. But of his top 100 auction prices, only three are for sculptures, according to Artnet, a firm that tracks auctions. (By contrast, one of Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures has topped $100 million.)”
All that could change with the completion of Ms. Widmaier-Picasso’s catalogue raisonné, said Carmen Gimenez, a curator with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum who previously ran the Museo Picasso Málaga in Spain. Ms. Gimenez said dealers and auctioneers are already leveraging Ms. Widmaier-Picasso’s research into the artist’s 1950s sheet-metal sculptures to remind collectors how rare these pieces are compared with his paintings.
The rest of the piece details the tug of war between Diana Widmaier-Picasso and the artist’s other survivors, who are neatly depicted in this invaluable family tree:
Take it from the hardworking staff:
This is one helluva read.