Saturday, January 22, 2005

Toilet Paper, Dogfood, and Picassos

Picasso's Weeping Woman

Buy two get one free, 30-day money-back guarantee

Big Box Retailers have been criticized for squeezing out the little guy, paying low wages, and erecting behemoth warehouse stores that create congestion and tear up the landscape. But nobody ever accused them of having artistic pretensions. That's about to change. In a sign of the pending apocalypse, Costco is selling Picassos online:


SEATTLE - Costco shoppers were offered an online deal this month — an original Picasso. The crayon-on-paper drawing of a face signed and dated by Pablo Picasso was listed for $39,999.99 on the retailer's Web site Jan. 12. It sold Wednesday, said Jim Sinegal, Costco's chief executive, who would not identify the buyer.

The Issaquah-based discount retailing giant may be better known for bulk chicken and cases of soda, but the site features an eclectic mix of items, from caskets to computers to sports equipment.
Art dealer Jim Tutwiler, who sold the Picasso, has been selling art through Costco for the past decade. He said Costco's markup is one-tenth that of traditional galleries.

Tutwiler described the drawing as a "doodle" on the blank side of a book jacket. Picasso probably traded it for a new suit or a boat or some service, he said. "He was a barterer. He hated to spend money," Tutwiler said.

The work was signed and dated Nov. 29, 1970. Picasso's daughter, Maya, authenticated it through a handwritten and signed declaration, which was further verified by the International Society of Appraisers.
This was the second Picasso Tutwiler has sold through Costco.