Thursday, January 11, 2007

Poking the Picasso

Mills of the gods

Over the years I have had a number of cases with Llyods of London, the British Insurance market. I always found the Interested Underwriters I worked with there to be nice people. However, the only time they are ever mentioned in the media is when they are stiffing someone on a claim. Lloyd's latest escapade involves Casino builder and operator Steve Wynn, the man who has now replaced Wayne Newton as the most identifiable man in Las Vegas.

Wynn bought a Picasso ten years ago for $48.4 million. That's a lot of money, even for someone who makes a living off the bottomless stupidity of the American Gambler. The painting is caalled "le Reve" and according to Wynn it is now "Le Wreck" after he stuck his thumb through it. Yes, stuck his thumb through it.Think how this sounds in Europe, "An American Casino Tycoon stuck his big fat thumb through Piccaso's "le Reve" yesterday."

Did you ever go over to some rich guys house and have him show you and try to hand you something of great value ? Remember how you were scared to hold it because you just knew that you were going to do something to damage it ? Well it turns out that really happens. Wynn was showing off his painting to some other rich louts, including one of the current biggest louts on the American scene, Barbara Walters in Las Vegas. Also there was David Boise who managed to lose the 2000 election case before the U.S. Supreme Court which put into office a fellow now responsible for the loss of 3,000 American soldiies lives as well as (according to CNN) enough expenditures on the war to pay for everyones gasoline for an entire year. But I digress.

While showing off the Picasso, Wynn did what he, himself has called, the "world's clumsiest and goofiest thing to do." Actually, it is not anywhere near that, but it was clumsy and goofy (unless he did it on purpose) all the same. He poked his thumb through the painting. Lloyds say that it can have the painting fixed for about $90,000, which is a lot of masking tape. But Steve, the guy who poked his thumb through it wants $54 million for "lost value". In other words, Wynn thinks that after the painting is repaired it will be worth $54 million less than it was before he decided to be little Jack Horner and stuck his thumb into it.Mind you, he paid $48.4 for it, it is worth, according to him $5.6 million more than he paid for it with a patch on it (or maybe masking tape) . Wynn thinks the painting is still worth about $85 million. You do the math as to what it is worth without a hole in it. That is quite a return on investment over ten years. I guess he was going to sell it to pay off his latest Casino.

All this proves is that the trend of sending valuable works of art to Las Vegas is dangerous. Not only is it casting pearls before swine, in that your average Vegas gambler thinks Picasso is a brand name for a frozen pizza, but it subjects these treasures to the rough handling and clumsy practices of people like Steve Wynn and Barbara Walters. It is time to ban art from Las Vegas. It is just too risky.


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