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Picasso Stolen from Miami Art Fair

Saturday 06th December 2014

Art fairs are becoming de rigeur in the modern art world, growing to replace all the traditional gallery models in terms of popularity and sales volume in a very short time. It seems like popularity isn't the only thing that they're growing in, however, as this year a piece was stolen from a prominent Miami art fair - just probably not the one you're thinking of. Art Basel in Miami Beach is in full swing, but they're not the ones who have had something stolen, as it turns out. A smaller art fair, Art Miami, is the center of the theft, which occurred in the last few days.

Leslie Smith Gallery's booth at the fair was showing a number of pieces by famed Cubist Pablo Picasso, including the artifact that was stolen, Visage aux Mains (Face with Hands, 1956), a silver plate about 17 inches in diameter. Valued at roughly $85,000 USD, the piece is the first the gallery owner has ever had stolen, whether from an art fair or not. Classified as a grand heist by the police due to the value of the work, the current theory seems to be that the thief had little to no knowledge of the art world and the vagaries of its pricing models, as a much more expensive ceramic piece, also by Picasso, was hanging directly below the stolen silver plate.

Currently, the market for Picasso ceramics is in quite a boom, meaning that the thief is likely unaware of the intricacies of art and likely wanted it for its silver value - a mere $400 USD. It is possible, of course, that they simply wanted the piece itself and have no plans to resell it or melt it down, but until the thief is caught nothing can be said for sure. The organizers of the fair have offered a $5,000 reward for the return of the piece, no questions asked..A statement was sent to artnet news by fair director Nick Korniloff, emphasizing this:
    We have issued a $5,000.00 reward for the return of the work with no questions asked—based on our own internal conclusion that whomever took the piece knows nothing about art and took it based on the fact that they thought it to be solid silver. [...] It makes absolutely no sense that this work would be targeted by anyone with knowledge of art. We hope that the piece is returned to the owner to preserve the existence of the work for future generations.

Here's hoping they get it back!

Posted on December 06th 2014 on 03:54pm

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