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Sotheby's will auction a portrait once owned by Gianni Versace, while the heirs of German Jewish art collectors are suing the Guggenheim over the painting Woman Ironing.

One Picasso Goes to Auction, Another Goes to Court

Pablo Picasso, Fillette au bateau (Maya) (1938) (detail). Oil on canvas. 116.2 cm x 73 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

The heirs of Karl Adler and Rosi Jacobi are suing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum over a Pablo Picasso painting held in the museum's collection.

Adler and Jacobi reportedly sold Woman Ironing (1904) to the dealer who gifted the work to the museum for just US $1,552 as they fled Nazi persecution in 1938. Today its worth is estimated at $100–200 million.

'Adler would not have disposed of the painting at the time and price that he did, but for the Nazi persecution to which he and his family had been, and would continue to be, subjected,' argued the plaintiffs in the court filing.

Pablo Picasso, Woman Ironing (1904). Via @michael_eggleton Instagram.

In a statement, the Guggenheim said the claim was 'without merit'.

'The action filed yesterday does not concern a painting that was stolen or seized by Nazi authorities,' they said. 'Rather, the painting at issue was sold by Karl Adler, a German Jew with extensive international business holdings, to Justin Thannhauser, a prominent Jewish art dealer, in late 1938 or early 1939.'

The Guggenheim will present the exhibition Young Picasso in Paris, which shines a light on works created from 1900–1901, from 12 May to 6 August.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo: David Heald. © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo: David Heald. © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

Meanwhile, Sotheby's yesterday announced that a portrait of Picasso's daughter Maya will appear at auction for the first time in more than 20 years.

Maya was born in secret to Marie-Thérèse Walter while the artist was still married to his first wife, ballerina Olga Khokhlova.

Fillette au bateau (Maya) (1938) which depicts the girl holding a toy boat, is one of 14 portraits of Maya that Picasso painted between January 1938 and 1939 after completing his most celebrated painting, Guernica, in 1937.

Pablo Picasso, Fillette au bateau (Maya) (1938). Oil on canvas. 116.2 cm x 73 cm.

Pablo Picasso, Fillette au bateau (Maya) (1938). Oil on canvas. 116.2 cm x 73 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

The painting of Maya was owned by fashion designer Gianni Versace before being sold as part of a collection of 25 works by Picasso in 1999.

It has now outlived its subject, Maya Ruiz-Picasso, who died on 20 December 2022 at 87.

Fillette au bateau (Maya) will be offered in Sotheby's Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction in London on 1 March. It has an estimate of US $15–20 million. —[O]

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