Steven Cohen, owner of SAC Capital Advisors LP, has bought Pablo Picasso’s “Le Reve” for $155 million from casino owner Steve Wynn, a person familiar with the transaction said.
The price is the highest paid by a U.S. collector for an artwork, art dealers told Bloomberg.
Wynn had previously agreed to sell the painting to Cohen for $139 million in 2006. The purchase was canceled after Wynn, whose vision has deteriorated owing to retinitis pigmentosa, accidentally put his elbow through the canvas. Cohen remained interested in the work for years as it was repaired.
“The restoration seems to be factored into the price,” said Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, valuation specialist and president of New York-based BSJ Fine Art. “If you didn’t know that it has been damaged, you would not see it. It’s superbly restored.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed $616 million insider-trading settlement with SAC Capital Advisors will be the subject of a hearing on March 28 in Manhattan federal court.
SAC manages $15 billion, 60 percent of which is Cohen’s and his employees’ money. Cohen is one of the world’s biggest art collectors, with works by Van Gogh, Manet, de Kooning, Picasso, Cezanne, Warhol, Johns and Richter.
Cohen, 56, started collecting art in about 2001. His taste has shifted from Impressionist to contemporary works.
An early Cohen purchase was Edouard Manet’s 1878 “Self Portrait with a Palette” from the collection of Las Vegas casino developer Wynn. Cohen later sold the work.
Cohen’s purchases have helped boost prices of artists such as Damien Hirst, whose shark-in-formaldehyde he bought for $8 million.
“Le Reve” shows Marie-Therese Walter, described in biographies as the married artist’s mistress, model and muse. For years he gave her and their daughter financial support.
The market for pictures of her surged when the 1932 “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” sold for $106.5 million -- a record for any work of art at auction -- at Christie’s International in New York in May 2010.
Sotheby’s in London also sold the 1932 “La Lecture” for 25.2 million pounds ($40.5 million) in February 2011. “Femme assise pres d’une fenetre” sold for 28.6 million pounds at Sotheby’s in London in February this year.
Married and 45, Picasso spotted Walter in 1927 on a Paris street when she was 17. She would be the artist’s greatest love for the next decade, inspiring numerous paintings and sculptures, according to John Richardson, Picasso’s biographer.
“She was young, blond, sexy, round, accommodating,” said Michael Findlay, director of New York’s Acquavella Galleries, which organized “Picasso’s Marie-Therese” exhibition in 2008, said in 2011.
Most of the top Marie-Therese paintings at auction have been dated 1932, the year of Picasso’s big retrospective at Galeries Georges Petit in Paris.
The Marie-Therese period hasn’t always been considered Picasso’s finest hour, said Findlay. This changed after “Le Reve” hit the auction block as part of the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz in 1997. It sold for $48 million.
“Everyone wanted to buy the ‘The Dream,’” said Findlay. “It was a standout among the new generation of collectors,” including Francois Pinault, Bernard Arnault, Cohen and Wynn.
The new “Le Reve” sale was earlier reported by the New York Post, citing a source it didn’t identify.
The price isn’t the most paid for a work of art. In 2011, Cezanne’s “Card Players” was bought by the royal family of Qatar for more than $250 million, Vanity Fair reported.
(Richard Vines and Katya Kazakina write for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are their own.)
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