Casino magnate Steve Wynn acquired Picasso’s painting La Reve for $139 million. Then, while showing off the valuable work at his Las Vegas Hotel, he punched a hole in it with his elbow.

Can you imagine? When I told Karsten (who is, as you may know, a visual artist), his jaw dropped, he shook his head, and then pointed out that there so many levels of absurdity in that. First: the concept that a piece of stretched canvas with oil paint on it is worth $139 million. And then… oops? He asked if Wynn was drunk or anything. And no, as a matter of fact, I dug around and found this account from Nora Ephron on

Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

Again, I ask: can you imagine? Yikes.

She also admits to having had a burning desire to take a picture, but showed the sensitivity and discretion not to:

At the same time I was holding my digital camera in my hand – I’d just taken several pictures of the Picasso – and I wanted to take a picture of the Picasso with the hole in it so badly that my camera was literally quivering. But I didn’t see how I could take a picture – it seemed to me I’d witnessed a tragedy, and what’s more, that my flash would go off if I did and give me away.

Wow. I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine being the one to witness it, let alone being the one to damage it. It hurts my brain just thinking of it.

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That had to hurt

6 thoughts on “That had to hurt

  • October 22, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    My grandmother (who hung out with Picasso a couple times) would have been quite amused at this – we found a Picasso sketch rolled up in her hallway closet one time. Imagine our horror at almost having thrown it away without looking at it.

    Anyway, that is absolutely horrifying, as Karsten put it, “on so many levels”. Amazing.

  • October 22, 2006 at 4:44 pm


    Ye gods and small fish. That’s horrifying.

  • October 22, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    Oh, my god! The poor, poor man.


  • October 22, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    When I heard the story, the part that ammused me the most (and impressed me the most) was that Wynn’s comment was something to the effect of, “Well, I’m glad it was me.”

  • October 23, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Wow, I hadn’t heard about that. I had heard that he was mostly blind and that he typically is followed by his wife and a lot of bodyguards who keep him apprised of all pertinent information and make sure that his properties look the way he says they should look.

  • October 25, 2006 at 1:03 am

    Reminds me of the story about the guy who tripped over his shoe laces on the stairs at the British museum and accidentally knocked over and shattered three priceless, 300 year old vases. How do you live that down?


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