Picasso May Visit Palestine With Loan of $7 Million Cubist Painting to the West Bank

Picasso May Visit Palestine With Loan of $7 Million Cubist Painting to the West Bank
The Palestinian Territories may soon be paid a visit by a $7 million painting by Pablo Picasso, the first work by the artist — and the most valuable work by any artist — ever to be displayed in the West Bank. According to the Associated Press, however, the logistics of safely transporting the 1943 Cubist "Buste de Femme" through Israeli checkpoints and into the conflict zone will be exceedingly difficult, and may ultimately prove impossible. The loan would also place the work in the midst of a violently unstable region, where actor and cultural activist Juliano Mer Khamis was murdered earlier this week.

The undertaking is the product of a year of negotiations (versus the usual six-month period required to arrange inter-museum art-sharing) with the Israeli military, as well as Dutch and Palestinian museum workers, to ferry the work from the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, Holland to the International Academy of Art in Ramallah for display this summer. But even if a reliable transport company that is permitted to travel both in the West Bank and Israel can be enlisted, and the painting securely traverses the 52-mile trip from the airport near Tel Aviv to the art school, it is uncertain that the academy will be able to get its facilities, such as control systems for humidity and temperature, up to snuff in time.


"Of course, at the beginning, we saw these complications but didn't know to what extent this would reach," Van Abbe curator Remco de Blaaij told the AP of his museum's plan to loan the most valuable piece in its collection to the five-year-old Palestinian institution. In the past, Picasso's "Buste" has journeyed to Sao Paolo for an exhibition, where it was damaged when it was left out in the sun, as Blaaij recounted to the AP. "The main concern is with getting into the West Bank and even more with getting out of there," Blaaij said. "You never know what's going to happen at checkpoints."


The Art Newspaper, meanwhile, recently reported that loaning Picassos can serve as a massive source of income for museums, citing Paris's Musée Picasso as an example, which earns between €1 million and €3.5 million ($1.43-5 million) each year by loaning out works from its collection.