IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Costco checking authenticity of its Picassos

Costco is probing the authenticity of some Picasso paintings that were sold on its Web site.
/ Source: The Associated Press

One of Pablo Picasso’s daughters has questioned the authenticity of a drawing listed for sale on Costco Wholesale Corp.’s Web site, and for two others already sold over the past two years as works by the iconic Spanish cubist.

“Picador in a Bullfight,” a drawing listed at $145,999.99, was removed from Costco’s Web site this week after Maya Widmaier-Picasso questioned its authenticity certificates, and the certificates for the other two works.

Costco has begun probing their authenticity, Jim Sinegal, chief executive of the nation’s largest wholesale-club, said Thursday.

“We’re still trying to ferret out where we’re at on this thing,” Sinegal said. He said the company had thoroughly researched the authenticity of “Picador in a Bullfight” and the other two before they were offered for sale.

“That doesn’t mean we’re infallible,” he said, adding, “We would be terribly embarrassed if there was a flaw in our system.”

The company called the customers who bought the other drawings from when it learned that The New York Times was preparing a story questioning the authenticity of similar drawings. The Times published a report on the issue Thursday.

Sinegal said both customers have declared themselves satisfied with their purchases, but if it turns out the drawings are not authentic, they will be offered their money back.

Florida art dealer Jim Tutwiler has been selling art through Costco for the past decade. He described a crayon-on-paper Picasso drawing sold in January 2005 as a “doodle” on the blank side of a book jacket. The work was signed and dated Nov. 29, 1970.

That drawing and a Picasso sold in November 2004 on both came with a handwritten and signed declaration from Widmaier-Picasso.

Tutwiler said Friday he was saddened by the turn of events concerning the Picasso drawings, but added that he wasn’t convinced that the drawings and their papers were not authentic. “Costco didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. We believed the paperwork,” he said. “It will all shake out.”

Widmaier-Picasso, 70, told the newspaper Tuesday that she questions the authenticity of “Picador in a Bullfight” and its authentication certificate, which also purports to have been drawn up and signed by her. She contends the document is a forgery, citing problems ranging from grammar to handwriting.

Sinegal said Costco officials checked the authentication certificates that accompanied their drawings and found only one of her five concerns to be an issue on the company’s certificates, which were further verified by the International Society of Appraisers.