De Kooning's 'Woman III' Used to Get Around

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'Woman III' by Willem de Kooning

The Wall Street Journal today has a fascinating story about two items currently on display in New York museums. It turns out that at one point parts of an illuminated manuscript currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Islamic art galleries were traded for Willem de Kooning’s Woman III, currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art. The trade was made with the Iranian government—which had acquired the de Kooning under the shah in the 1970s—in 1994, well before Steven A. Cohen famously bought it for $137.5 million in 2006.

The full story is available here and really worth a read. It involves international intrigue, code words and the phrase of the morning: “Many art scholars regard [a main character’s] conduct as bafflingly destructive.”