Sometimes the Dark Side of the art world turns Bright. A two-decade-long search for Picasso’s Buste de Femme (dora Maar) came to an end last month when Dutch investigator Arthur Brand, announced its recovery.
The painting, which hung in Picasso’s home until his death, was purchased by Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh in 1980 for £4 million and hung on his 246-foot yacht – Coral Island. In 1999, the yacht was scheduled for maintenance, so the painting was wrapped up and locked in a room awaiting transport to a bank vault for safe keeping. A few days later, workers came to collect the painting and poof! It was gone!
In 2015, Brand got wind that the painting was moving through the underworld and he let it be known that he wanted to help return it to its rightful owner. Along the way, he learned that the painting traded hands at least ten times since its disappearance.
Last month, Brand received a phone call from representatives of a Dutch businessman claiming that their client had the painting. According to the article, the business man “thought the Picasso was part of a legitimate deal. It turns out the deal was legitimate – the method of payment [the painting] was not.” A short time later, those representatives arrived at Brand’s door in Amsterdam with the Picasso – now valued at US$28 million – wrapped in garbage bags.
Brand took possession of the work, had it authenticated by experts from New York and handed over to an unnamed insurance firm.