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Two large works by Picasso, Le Fumeur and Buste d’homme, both painted in 1969 and completely fresh to the market, will be offered by Landau Fine Art of Montreal, Canada for $3.75m each.

The two are in pristine condition and have never been framed, let alone offered for sale.

Both first appeared in 1970 at an exhibition in Avignon and have subsequently appeared at other Picasso shows including those at the Pompidou Centre, the Tate and the National Gallery, Berlin.

Commenting on the price of the pictures, Robert Landau says: “All our prices are in US dollars, and in view of the extraordinary strength of European currencies against the dollar, our business has been unbelievably active since Christmas.
It is almost as if Europeans are buying at 25 per cent discount.”

MEANWHILE, a sad tale of one painting among the thousands on display at TEFAF Maastricht which will definitely not be for sale.

It is a canvas on the stand of sponsors of the fair, AXA Art. Entitled Piazza d’Italia, this work by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) is in far from what one would call showroom condition. In fact, it is severely damaged.

The picture was in a private collection insured through AXA Art’s Benelux office. It hung in the sitting room of a town house next door to a bank, which you would assume to be a pretty safe location.

Unfortunately, though, the bank was undergoing demolition and the man who operated the crane and wrecking ball did not have a very good aim. Indeed, he missed the bank altogether and the ball crashed straight through the wall of the sitting room and through the centre of the painting.

AXA Art compensated the client for complete loss and took possession of the damaged painting.