COURTESY HILO ART MUSEUM
"Two Monkeys" by Pablo Picasso was recently donated to the Hilo Art Museum. The graphite-on-paper piece, 9.6 inches by 6.6 inches, was created by the master of cubism in 1954.
Hilo museum scores artistic coup with Picasso piece
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An original drawing by 20th century art icon Pablo Picasso will be the centerpiece of Hilo Art Museum's Exhibit Center when it opens Aug. 3.
The Italian collector who donated the drawing to the new museum is quoted in a Roman newspaper suggesting the 1954 drawing could be worth $150 million.
Experts say its difficult to say exactly what it's worth.
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Hilo Art Museum Director Ted Coombs thought the museum was going to open its Exhibit Center next month with life-size reproductions of the great masters.
Now, thanks to a donation from an art collector in Italy, the museum will open with an original drawing from 20th century art icon Pablo Picasso.
"My first thought was how exciting that we'll be able to show real masters," Coombs said.
He said the impetus for the museum was to bring the masters of Europe to Hawaii. The Exhibit Center will open in the Hilo Iron Works building Aug. 3.
Picasso's "Two Monkeys" graphite-on-paper drawing from 1954 was donated to the Hilo Art Museum by Italian writer Roberto Malini, who had it on display at Studio d'Art Atelier Rosenberg in Milan.
He made the donation after learning of the museum's educational mission in a conversation with Steve Davey, the museum's public relations coordinator.
"He was excited about it," Davey said.
Malini was quoted in an Italian newspaper speculating that the Picasso drawing could be worth $150 million.
"It really depends on the drawing -- when it was done, what its subject is, whether it is considered a sketch for a painting or a finished work of art on its own right," said Jaimey Hamilton, University of Hawaii art history assistant professor.
Coombs says the museum doesn't have any history of the drawing other than when Picasso signed it.
Hamilton said there has always been a lot of discussion as to whether all of his drawings should be considered part of his official ouvre or body of work.
Picasso completed "Two Monkeys" after he had moved on from the cubist style of art for which he is best known. Sale prices for other Picasso drawings offered at auction by Sotheby's in New York recently range from $18,000 to $540,000.
Coombs said the museum already has possession of the Picasso drawing and is in discussion with its insurance company about how much to insure it for. But, he said, that figure will be confidential.
"Right now we're saying it's priceless," he said.
Davey said the museum continues conversations with Malini about sending more artwork to Hilo. The museum also has donations from Hawaii artists Wyland and Suzanne Dix.
The museum opens its Education Center on July 2.
"We really hope it will inspire a generation of artists in Hawaii," Coombs said.