Pablo Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.” So imagine, for a second, that a piece of art which sat in storage collecting dust for half a century turned out to be an original Picasso.
The staff at the Evansville Museum in Evansville, Ind. didn’t exactly foresee that scenario — but it’s most definitely real. The piece, now identified as Picasso’s “Seated Woman with Red Hat”, had been erroneously cataloged as one inspired by Picasso and instead credited to an artist named Gemmaux, the Evansville Courier & Press reports. Gemmaux, it turns out, is simply the plural of “gemmail,” which refers to the fired-glass technique used in creating the piece.
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In 1963, industrial designer Raymond Loewy donated the piece to the museum, where it sat in storage until New York auction house Guernsey’s decided to inquire. The museum voted on Tuesday to authorize the auction house to sell “Seated Woman with Red Hat” privately, citing concerns about maintenance and insurance costs.
“Now that we have a full understanding of the requirements and additional expenses to display, secure, preserve and insure the piece, it is clear those additional costs would place a prohibitive financial burden on the museum,” R. Steven Krohn, president of the museum’s board of trustees, told the Courier & Press.
Guernsey’s has refrained from public speculation about how much the 1950s-era fired glass piece will fetch, but NewsFeed suspects the number will land somewhere in the ballpark of “ridiculously, mind-bogglingly high.” In 2010 another Picasso work, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” sold at auction for a then-record $106.5 million.