Museum Discovers a Picasso in Storage, Has to Sell it

The work in question. (Courtesy NPR)

A fascinating lesson in museum management today from NPR. The Museum of Arts, History and Science in the southwestern Indiana town of Evansville discovered that it actually had a 1957 work by Pablo Picasso, Femme assise au chapeau rouge, in their collection, long lost through mislabeling. The work is valued between $30 million and $40 million, a price so high that the museum has decided that it really can’t afford to keep it.

More from NPR:

Robert Pittinger is with the insurance company AXA Art. He won’t guess at how much it might cost to insure the Picasso, but he says his company wouldn’t take on the risk of insuring a piece unless it had the right protection.

“Is it hung properly? Is it in an environment where it is climate controlled? Is it in an area that is not susceptible to excess light?” Pittinger asks.

All of that protection can get expensive. At the Evansville Museum, where artwork is crowded on the gallery walls and the entire collection is valued at only $10 million, modifying the space would cost more than the actual insurance. The irony is that if the museum had the money from the sale of the Picasso now, it could probably afford to keep it.

Thanks to Art Market Monitor for pointing us to this story. Museum Discovers a Picasso in Storage, Has to Sell it