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February 1, 2016

Monday, February 01, 2016 - , 1 comment

Before and After Comparison and Overlay of Stolen "Picasso" Recovered in Istanbul

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) - “Woman Dressing Her Hair” - 
Royan France, June 1940, Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 38 1/4 (130.1 x 97.1 cm)

While it is likely too early to see a large quantity of illicit conflict antiquities transiting through Turkey on their way to backroom collectors, that doesn't mean that the stage hasn't been set for flogging other purportedly stolen artworks.  On Saturday, January 30, 2016 Turkish authorities announced the recovery of what appears to be a badly damaged Pablo Picasso oil painting, "Woman Dressing Her Hair" that was once exhibited in a travelling exhibition from August to November 2012 at London's Tate Britain and the National Galleries of Scotland and on displat for a time at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 
On Display in London

While several news reports have stated that the painting was stolen from a residence of an unnamed female New York collector, the painting's provenance, listed by the MOMA website states:

Original Owner: Pablo Picasso, from 1940 until the summer of 1957; 
Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, Inc., New York;
Mrs. Bertram Smith / Louise Reinhardt Smith, New York, 
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Louise Reinhardt Smith bequest, 1995.

Louise Reinhardt Smith, was one of New York’s most discerning and passionate collectors of modern art as well as a prized supporter of the Museum of Modern Art.  She died quietly at 91 on Thursday, July 13, 1995 at her home in Manhattan and it can be assumed that it was in or near 1995 that the painting's ownership shifted to the MOMA though this is not clearly specified in MOMA's collection history.    The MOMA's website merely states that the work is not on view.  

Posing as buyers, Turkish authorities have indicated that they recovered the painting after a month-long investigation involving back and forth negotiations over the price with the prospective sellers. During that time, officers posing as collectors met with the suspects first at a hotel, then at a yacht marina in the Bakırköy district and ultimately at a cafe in Fatih, on the European side of Istanbul, where the purchase of the painting for $7 million dollars was supposed to be arranged.  There officers took two males, identified as A.O. and M.E.O, into custody and the damaged canvas was recovered.
Original and Recovered Painting
Comparison Overlay

Based on Dora Maar, a young and comely photographer who photographed Picasso in her late twenties, "Woman Dressing Her Hair" was completed in Royan, France during the summer of 1940. Some believe the painting was the artist's representation of a person trapped in anguish, made insane by being exposed to the terrors of war.   In the painting, Picasso painted Maar in an enclosed and compressed space with green walls and a purple floor as well as with hoof-like hands. 

As seen by the above before the theft and after the theft images as well as this simple comparison overlay, the recovered painting's brushstroke dimensions, appear to generally match the original artwork, at least with respect to the artwork's proportions. Pigment matches, useful in authentication, have not yet been made, nor have authorities mentioned the similarity of this painting to the one in the MOMA collection.

The recovered canvas reportedly carries the collector’s name and seals showing its collection history on the reverse side and as a result has been sent to Istanbul’s Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University to be examined further. 

By Lynda Albertson


It's so clear that that painting is fake. The label on the back is cut from 1955 Picasso book. It's not first fake Picasso found in Turkey. They usually comes from Iraq royal family collection.