Evansville Art Museum Finds Picasso Treasure in Storage

Aug 15, 2012

A piece of artwork that sat in storage for nearly half a century is creating a lot of excitement at the Evansville Museum.  Officials there recently discovered a painting, dismissed for decades, is actually a rare Picasso worth millions of dollars.

The artwork titled “Seated Woman with Red Hat” was donated to the museum by a private collector in 1963.  The painting was created using a layered glass technique called gemmail.  Although Picasso was less known for this art form, he created about 50 gemmaux (gem-moe) works during his two years of study in France.  

When the Evansville Museum received the gift, documentation stated the piece was created by an artist named “Gemmaux,” confusing the name of the technique with the artist’s name.  The artwork went into museum storage where it remained until just recently when a New York auction house called to inquire about the piece.  It was then that the museum learned about the rare and valuable work.   R. Steven Krohn, the president of the museum’s board of trustees, named a special advisory panel to determine a course of action regarding the piece.

“Now that we have a full understanding of the requirements and additional expenses to display, secure, preserve and insure the piece, it is clear those additional costs would place a prohibitive financial burden on the museum,” Krohn said.

Trustees voted to sell it to the New York auction company Guernsey's.  The museum isn’t sure how much the artwork will fetch or how the proceeds will be used.