Two Old Treasures – Picasso and Mike Cunningham

Two Previous Treasures – Picasso and Mike Cunningham

I am a treasure hunter. I do not indicate that I depart the home every single morning armed with a pick and a shovel and an outdated map marked with an X. No. My tools are the Antique Trade Gazette’s auction guide, my outdated motor and forty-many years accumulated knowledge of artwork and antiques. I travel the globe searching for errors manufactured by auction houses and dealers wherever I can uncover them. I consume most days, but I am not obtaining wealthy.

Image restorer, dealer, Mike Cunningham was one particular of the best treasures I ever found. We clicked from the moment we met and I was positive we would expand previous with each other. When he died in his sleep in 2000 I was more upset than when I misplaced my Dad. Mike was fifty-two many years outdated, match and complete of plans for the potential. He had recently made the decision to sell his London residence and retire to Hastings, on the south coast of England, in which he and companion Sue already owned a little residence in the Old Town. Mike and I had purchased numerous images together more than the preceding twenty years, most of them turned above quickly for a profit. But when Mike died we have been even now half shares in a painting that, if we had some provenance, would have secured our futures and that of a small African nation.

Mike bought the picture from some Irish travellers on the Goldbourne Road (off Portobello Street, London) a single, really moist, Friday morning in 1980. He paid two pounds ($ four.00). He did not even know that it was a painting. All he could see in the half-light was a muddy, cupboard door, burned on one side with traces of paint on the charcoal. The other side had previous wallpaper caught to it and a letter connected to the top proper-hand corner. He did feel the letter looked fascinating – although he couldn’t speak French – and he considered he recognised the signature. Later on, back at his studio in Fulham he wiped the mud from the charcoal and discovered Picasso’s Guernica – in colour

The painting measures 45.5cm x 57.5cm is signed Picasso 1937 in the physique of the fallen warrior. The letter on the back was addressed to Gordon Davy of the R.A.E. Cap D’Antibes 2.1.46 and signed Picasso and a footnote – Operation Specific Executive Project Layout – Guernica. The top left-hand corner of this letter (with “Pour Gordon” written on it) was detached and misplaced, but a Photograph does exist.

In July 1981 Mike showed the picture to Roland Penrose. Penrose liked the picture. He said that he had never ever noticed it himself, but he promised he would make some inquiries. Regrettably Mr Penrose died, prior to Mike was able to enter into correspondence with him.

It took me a couple of many years to persuade him, but, in a moment of weakness, Mike ultimately offered me a half share. In 1987 we approached a handwriting professional at New Scotland Yard and asked her to take a seem at the letter. Encouragingly she noticed no explanation to suppose the letter was a fake, despite the fact that, due to the lack of appropriate reference for comparison, she was unable to give a definitive judgment. The hunt started for samples of Picasso’s writing from about the same date, written with a brush and, preferably, written even though he was in a comparable frame of mind.

I had the brilliant idea that we must write to the Picasso committee in Paris and inquire for assist. This, of program, was a catastrophe. The committee simply condemned the picture. They had no reference for it and we had no history.

We did locate some ideal examples of handwriting over the up coming number of years and in 1990 the skilled wrote to us saying that: “There are some fairly good matches among the writings but I hold coming back to the letter ‘d’ ” – she was unable to find a match for this letter in the same type. She continued to be encouraging and recommended that we preserve seeking for painted handwriting.

I suppose we did make some energy to discover more reference, but not a lot. We had been usually occupied with other factors. Mike made a quite nice box for the painting and for the following 10 years it seldom saw the light of day. I haven’t observed it given that the 12 months before Mike died. I will not even know the place it is. I miss my good friend a lot far more than I miss the painting – I’d rather hear Mike’s voice on the finish of the phone with a cheery – “‘ello, mate. You ‘eard the one particular about the bow-legged vicar and the policewoman?” – than ever have a provenance for a painting – even Picasso’s Guernica in colour.

Sam Scribbler Ex ad-guy living at the end of the globe.

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