Just days after it was announced that three top galleries would split the job of selling off work from the collection of the late Donald B. Marron, one collector has already reportedly snapped up two prized works from the storied holdings of modern and contemporary art. Stephen A. Wynn, the billionaire former casino magnate who ranks on ARTnews’s Top 200 Collectors list, has purchased two paintings by Picasso for roughly $105 million from Marron’s estate, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The deal, which Wynn had shared with his friends, reportedly includes Picasso’s 1937 Woman with Beret and Collar, a portrait of the artist’s lover, and Seated Woman (Jacqueline), a 1962 portrait of his second wife. Marron’s colossal collection, amassed over some 50 years, is said to be worth at least $450 million. Representatives for Wynn did not confirm or deny the acquisition to the Wall Street Journal, but said that “Mr. Wynn frequently buys and sells fine art.”
Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips have been in fierce competition to sell the renowned collection since Marron died at age 85 in December. But in a shocking announcement last week, Marron’s widow, Catie, bypassed the houses, cosigning some 300 works from the collection—by Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Willem de Kooning, Gerhard Richter, Mark Bradford, Mark Grotjahn, and Laura Owens—to Pace, Acquavella, and Gagosian galleries.
The galleries, which would not comment on the sale of the Picassos, have not disclosed how much money they offered Catie, but it is likely well over the $300 million guarantee that the three auction houses are said to have offered. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal last week, Bill Acquavella said, “It was a lot of money, so we have to deliver—we can’t send any works back to her.”
In February 2018, Wynn resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts, which he cofounded with his ex-wife and fellow top collector Elaine Wynn, after dozens of women employed by the company accused him of sexual misconduct and harassment. Wynn has denied the allegations. Later that year, he launched Wynn Fine Art, an online art gallery that has since advertised multimillion-dollar works on its site, including pieces by Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol.
The two Picasso works sold to Wynn are slated to appear in exhibitions that Pace, Gagosian, and Acquavella will mount at their New York spaces in April.