Scots outlaw gets face-lift as damaged Banff painting is restored


Scots outlaw gets face-lift as damaged Banff painting is restored


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An iconic painting damaged during an alleged break-in at a Banff cafe has been restored to its former glory.


Steve Wynn furious at Christie’s for damaging his Picasso masterpiece


Steve Wynn furious at Christie’s for damaging his Picasso masterpiece



Former casino mogul Steve Wynn is incandescent after Christie’s staff allegedly allowed a metal rod to pierce through a priceless Picasso masterpiece he planned to sell for $100 million.

Sources say Wynn’s 1943 Picasso self-portrait, “Le Marin,” was severely damaged while stored at the auction house, as a metal extension pole for a wall paint roller allegedly fell on the canvas, creating a “significant hole” in the masterpiece.

The catastrophe uncoiled as Christie’s staff prepared to exhibit the artwork ahead of the auction.

This comes years after Wynn put his elbow through another Picasso masterpiece, “Le Rêve,” in 2006, leaving a silver-dollar-size hole. It was repaired and sold in 2013 for $155 million.

Wynn, 76, fears “Le Marin” is so badly damaged that it may be beyond repair. He also believes Christie’s may be low-balling him by valuing it at $70 million, while he insists it could have fetched more than $100 million at the May 15 auction.

Wynn’s adviser, private-wealth lawyer, and Pillsbury partner Michael Kosnitzky told Page Six, “To say that Mr. Wynn is upset is an extreme understatement. This was clearly an act of gross negligence on the part of Christie’s employees.”

Picasso’s “Le Marin” – Getty Images

Wynn is represented by litigators from his firm, while restorers and loss adjusters survey the damage.

Kosnitzky added, “We hope and anticipate that the painting can be properly restored. We also hope this matter can be amicably resolved with Christie’s. The other issue is the value they ascribe to the work — $70 million. We strongly disagree with it. Mr. Wynn contends it would have sold for over $100 million and would have been the most significant work in the show.

“There may be a debate among art and insurance experts for some time, but Mr. Wynn’s new art dealership expects to be fully compensated for the cost and time to repair the painting, and the diminution in its value, following this flagrant act of gross negligence by Christie’s staff.”

Wynn stepped down from his casino empire in February in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment spanning decades, but strongly denied any wrongdoing. The Picasso was one of three works going under the hammer to launch his new business Sierra Fine Art, LLC, through which the experienced collector intends to become the world’s most prominent art dealer to the wealthy, despite his eyesight problems.

Christie’s did not comment on how decorating equipment allegedly came into contact with valuable artwork, reiterating their statement that the Picasso was “accidentally damaged.”

WA Art Gallery’s $300m collection at risk of damage, damning auditor-general report finds


WA Art Gallery’s $300m collection at risk of damage, damning auditor-general report finds

The WA Art Gallery lacks space to store its works appropriately, the report found. (ABC News: Louise Merrillees)

Western Australia’s $300 million state art collection is at risk of damage or loss thanks to a lack of storage space and appropriate conservation, an auditor-general’s report has found.

The report, released today by acting auditor-general Sandra Labuschange, said the collection was at risk because of “storage, conservation, and monitoring issues”.

It found the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), which manages the collection, does not know where all its works are stored nor what condition they are in.

This is because its database is poorly documented, key records are incomplete and there has been no stocktake since 2010.

But AGWA director and chief executive Dr. Stefano Carboni said there were only 10 items out of the near-18,000 works that did not have a location recorded in the database.

The report also noted problems with storage.

“AGWA struggles to balance its responsibilities to grow and also preserve the state’s $300 million art collection,” the report stated.

“A significant shortage of appropriate storage space places artworks at risk of damage from not being stored in line with industry standards, and limits access to the collection for conservation work and public engagement.”

Auditors observed full storage shelves and artworks stored in almost every aisle and walkway. (Supplied: Office of the Auditor-General WA)

The report found many examples of overcrowded storage areas and art being stored in aisles and walkways.

“AGWA does not have a plan to ensure all artworks are conserved, with conservation almost entirely focused on the small part of the collection going on display each year.”

Ms. Labuschange said the findings were a serious concern.

“We have a $300 million asset of the state which isn’t being properly conserved and looked after,” she said.

“Generally, people tend to down play this type of asset because it’s art, but if we had a public building in that same condition we would not be happy.”

She said the report did not consider any works that may have been damaged as a result of storage management.

No artworks damaged, the director says

Dr. Carboni said he accepted the findings in a “general way”, especially the issue of storage, which he said he had been reporting for years to the board and the State Government.

“This is not new,” Dr. Carboni said.

“I am not aware of any museum that doesn’t have storage issues, the database is always a difficult beast.

“We are trying to contain, as much as possible, the risk that’s associated with having crammed spaces in storage.”

Dr. Carboni said no artworks had been damaged or were “at risk” currently because only specialized people could access the storage areas.

“We do the best to minimize the risk and I certainly don’t have to report any damage to the works that has happened in recent times.”

Dr. Carboni said the audit was a good opportunity to push for improvements, especially with the storage issue.

‘Fixing the issues will not be easy’

The collection is kept almost entirely at the AGWA building at the Perth Cultural Centre.

It is home to almost 18,000 works from WA, Australia, and international artists.

The audit report identified 99 artworks that needed treatment more than seven years ago.

It is unclear whether these works have been treated.

“Establishing a plan is particularly important given the limited resources AGWA has available to carry out this work,” the report found.

The report praised the way the gallery had attracted visitors over the years but said more needed to be done to reach a regional WA audience.

A number of recommendations were made, including fixing the lack of storage space, making artwork more accessible and steps to better manage and maintain the location and condition of the collection.

“While fixing the issues will not be easy in a time of restrained government spending, the AGWA staff we met showed a dedication and passion to finding ways to address the issues,” Ms. Labuschange said.

Art Gallery of WA
The Art Gallery has admitted it has some “critical” issues to address. (Matthew Perkins: ABC Local Radio)

Gallery recognizes ‘critical’ problems

In its reply, AGWA accepted the findings on the need to improve the care and management of the collection, and the need to broaden its access.

It said it recognized the “critical” need for additional storage and was working with the Government to find a “speedy” offsite solution.

AGWA said there was scope to improve its recordkeeping and it was working to implement improvements to its system.

It said it was working to develop an improved stocktake system and “control” of artworks by June 2019.

“AGWA will also develop a multi-year project as part of its conservation program to implement a safe tagging and external tracking system,” a spokesman said

AGWA said it was working on a three-year pilot program to tour “more high-quality visual arts exhibitions” to regional communities.