History In The Headlines

A Million-Dollar Picasso Could Be Yours—For Just $135

By Elizabeth Nix
If you ever dreamed of owning a work of art by the renowned Pablo Picasso but didn’t have an extra million dollars or so to spare, this could be your chance. The International Association to Save Tyre (IAST), founded to help preserve the UNESCO World Heritage site on Lebanon’s southern coast, is selling raffle tickets at $135 a pop for “L’homme au Gibus,” or “Man with Opera Hat,” a 1914 Picasso painting valued at $1 million. The proceeds from the raffle, called 1 Picasso for 100 Euros, will go toward projects in Tyre, a leading Phoenician-era port city that suffered damage to its archaeological sites during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990).
Olivier Picasso, Pablo Picasso's grandson, poses with a painting entitled L'Homme au Gibus or "Man with Opera Hat," which will be raffled off on December 18, 2013. (Credit: Getty Images)

Olivier Picasso, Pablo Picasso's grandson, poses with a painting entitled L'Homme au Gibus or "Man with Opera Hat," which will be raffled off on December 18, 2013. (Credit: Getty Images)

The Picasso raffle is the brainchild of Paris-based journalist and TV producer Peri Cochin, who helps plan fundraising events for IAST. Cochin had grown tired of charity dinners and wanted to come up with something that had more widespread appeal. She hit upon the idea of an online raffle and collaborated with Olivier Widmaier Picasso, a grandson of the artist, to find the right piece.

“Man with Opera Hat” is from Pablo Picasso’s Cubist period. Picasso, who was born in Spain in 1881, co-founded the cubist movement– an abstract style that reduces subjects to geometric forms–with French artist Georges Braque (1882–1963) in Paris between 1907 and 1914. It proved to be one of the most significant visual art forms of the early 20th century. In addition to cubism, Picasso worked in a number of different artistic styles and mediums over the course of his career. By the time of his death at age 91 in France in 1973, he had produced more than 20,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, theater sets, costumes and other items and had become one of the most famous and influential artists of the 20th century.

Today, a work of art by Picasso often commands millions of dollars at auction. In 2010, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” a painting he made of his mistress in a single day in 1932, went for $106.5 million at Christie’s in New York, breaking the record at the time for the priciest piece of art ever sold at auction. Earlier this year, “La Reve” (“The Dream”), another 1932 Picasso painting depicting his mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, changed hands for $155 million in a private sale between two U.S. art collectors. (In 2006, the seller, American casino magnate Stephen Wynn, agreed to unload the painting to the same buyer for $139 million. However, before the transaction was completed Wynn accidentally poked a hole in the canvas with his elbow and the deal was dead. “La Reve” eventually was restored, and the purchase took place this past March.)

1 Picasso for 100 Euros is the first-ever online raffle of an artwork by Picasso. A total of 50,000 raffle tickets will be issued, making the odds of taking home “Man with Opera Hat” far better than the approximately 1 in 175 million probability of winning a Powerball jackpot. Additionally, in an effort to keep things relatively fair, according to the rules of the Picasso lottery, no one can purchase more than 50 tickets. In November, a Dallas art collector tried to buy 10,000 tickets but was rejected.

The Picasso raffle drawing will be held at Sotheby’s in Paris on December 18 and will be streamed live online.

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Categories: Art History