Costly Rip in Steve Wynn’s Picasso Blamed on Contractor’s Gaffe
(Bloomberg) -- There’s a new fight brewing over who’s to blame for the hole that was put in a Picasso owned by casino magnate Steve Wynn as the painting was about to be auctioned two years ago.
According to a lawsuit, a rip in the canvas of “Le Marin,” a 1943 self-portrait, was the fault of a contractor who left equipment in a dangerous place in a gallery hallway -- a mistake that allegedly turned a $100 million masterpiece into $80 million of damaged goods.
In painful detail, the suit reconstructs how Le Marin was resting on foam pads at Christie’s, where it was being prepared for auction in May 2018, when a paint roller extension rod that was perched against a wall by the contractor fell on it and tore a 4 1/2-inch gash in its lower left side.
Christie’s paid $487,625 to have the painting restored, Steadfast Insurance Co. said in a complaint filed Thursday by the auction house’s insurer in Manhattan federal court. But “the extent of the physical damage to Le Marin and the accompanying reputational damage” lopped $20 million off the value of Le Marin, Steadfast claims.
The painting was returned to Wynn’s company, Sierra Fine Art LLC, and Christie’s agreed to pay $18.74 million in damages, the insurance company said. Steadfast says it reimbursed Christie’s and is now trying to recoup its costs from the contractor, T.C. Nugent.
T.C. Nugent didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment after regular business hours Thursday.
The 2018 mishap was the second to befall a Picasso owned by Wynn. In 2006, the billionaire, who suffers from a disease that affects his peripheral vision, accidentally struck “Le Reve” with his right elbow while showing it to friends in his Las Vegas office, leaving a hole the size of a silver dollar.
The case is Steadfast Insurance Co. v. T.C. Nugent Inc., 1:20-cv-03959, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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