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Picasso painting bought in 25,000 'chunks'
A LATE-ERA Picasso painting was bought online by 25,000 individuals before being put on display in a Swiss museum.
The 1968 Buste de mousquetaire (pictured) has just been set up at Geneva's MAMCO museum, six months after its sale in what the gallery's director Lionel Bovier calls 'very unusual circumstances'.
Normally, M. Bovier explains, major works of art are acquired by sole investors, either private individuals or companies, and it is rare for owners to agree for them to go to completely unknown buyers.
But this time, the 58 x 28.5-centimetre painting was sold off in 40,000 'parts' via the Swiss auction site QoQa – the first time an online community has acquired a major work of art and, possibly, setting a precedent for future ownership of famous pieces.
This way, small investors can buy shares in a work of art, and it enables the piece itself to 'connect with the community', says QoQa founder Pascal Meyer.
Each of the 40,000 'chunks' of the Picasso was on sale for 50 Swiss francs (€41.83), and some buyers purchased two or more 'chunks', giving a total of 25,000 owners and a final total sale price of €1.67 million, or two million Swiss francs.
Each of the owners has been given a letter confirming their investment and a card allowing them free entry into the MAMCO to view 'their' painting for the next six months, after which it will move to another location, to be agreed by the 25,000 owners.
They will then receive a free entry pass to whichever museum displays it.
Viviane Reybier, head of institutional communication at the MAMCO, says the museum has 'obviously' verified the painting is authentic, and says it is recorded in the so-called 'Zervos Catalogue' – the register compiled by Christian Zervos of the Málaga-born painter's works which is taken as the main point of reference.
Buste de mousquetaire is an example of one of Pablo Picasso's later works in which he returned to the interests of his youth, which centred heavily on musketeers and bull-fighters.
Although it is the first online community acquisition, the Buste de mousquetaire is not the first collective purchase of an artwork – or a Picasso.
Back in 1967, the Swiss city of Basel held a referendum on whether to increase taxes to enable it to buy two major Picasso works, which would be public property.
The majority of residents voted in favour, and a highly-appreciative Picasso gave a number of his paintings to 'the young people of Basel'.
These are now part of a temporary exhibition at the MAMCO on Picasso, which includes the Buste de mousquetaire.
Bovier says both collective purchases involved people 'buying something in the knowledge it would never truly belong to them personally' but with the intention of 'being able to see and relate to' the work.
To enable the buyers to relate to the Buste de mousquetaire, projections around the picture show a list of their names and also pictures visitors have taken of it and posted on social media.
A webcam has been set up so the painting's owners can see what is happening in the gallery hall where it is on display.
Conservation demonstrations, conferences and workshops are also on the cards to get the owners 'involved' in their purchase.
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