CorcoranLooking at the listing photos for Steve A. Cohen’s $115 million Manhattan penthouse, one thing caught our eye: a sculpture of a short, bald man with raised arms standing in a prime spot in the living room.
Cohen’s a well-known collector of contemporary art. He famously owns Damien Hirst’s sculpture of a shark in a tank of formaldehyde, and spent $137.5 million on Willem de Kooning’s “Woman.”
But we didn’t recognise the bald-man sculpture, which appears over and over again in the listing photos.
So we did some digging, and it appears that the work is by Maurizio Cattelan, an Italian artist known for his satirical sculptures. It’s a depiction of Pablo Picasso, which makes sense given the hedge funder’s love of the artist — he recently bought Picasso’s “Le Reve” from Steven Wynn for $155 million.
The work first appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in 1998, as part of an exhibit where Cattelan looked at the concept of “art as mascot,” according to The Guggenheim’s education centre. The Guggenheim explains:
For the run of the show, an actor dressed as Picasso in a large moulded head mask and the artist’s striped boatneck shirt occupied the galleries. This Picasso behaved like an amusement-park mascot, greeting crowds, posing for photographs, and signing autographs …
The presence of Cattelan’s Picasso as a friendly face, an inviting host, resembled those cartoon characters come-to life at Disneyland, an emblem for lowbrow, wholesome amusement.
We couldn’t find any record that Cohen himself bought the work, but a version (there are two) last sold at a Christie’s auction in London in 2007 for $487,000.
Here’s a close-up, from when the 7-foot-tall sculpture appeared at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 2006.