A man in a grey suit and Salvatore Ferragamo tie has been talk of this week’s Impressionist and Modern art sales in London. Quietly bidding with a twitch of the spectacles, Harry Smith of the London-based advisors Gurr Johns was determined to take home every Pablo Picasso going in the evening auctions, first at Christie’s then Sotheby’s. But who was he buying for?
Asked if he could comment on the identity of his client, Smith says: “I’m afraid I can’t. We buy and consign at auction regularly on behalf of clients, but confidentiality and discretion are paramount.” The Marie-Therese, Smith says, is “a masterpiece portrait” made particularly desirable by “the subject, the date, the condition, the provenance, and the fact it’s completely fresh to the market, offered at auction for the first time, having been in the family for so long. The market has a fairly regular supply of Picassos, but it’s rare to see a painting as special and as fresh to the market as this.”
Photo credit: Sotheby's