A tale has recently unfolded at the Skinner Inc. Auction that bears all the hallmarks of a great story: mystery, romance, and betrayal. Three virtually unknown pieces of jewelry, created by Pablo Picasso in a private collection meant only for his family’s eyes, have been brought to the public for the first time by supermodel and actress, Carole Mallory.
Carole received these pieces from the Picasso family while engaged to Claude Picasso, Pablo’s son. They were gifted to Carole during their engagement by Françoise Gilot, Claude’s mother, before their betrothal was broken off by Claude after four years.
Gilot was famously Picasso’s lover and muse for nearly ten years, meeting when she was just 21 and he 61. Together they had both Claude and his sister, Paloma. Gilot decided to divorce her then-husband in order to marry Picasso, thusly legitimating their children, but little did she know that by then he had already married another woman in secret. Despite a tumultuous romantic life, she was a hugely successful and illustrious artist, art critic, professor, and a costume and set designer for the Guggenheim of New York. She later married Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine.
The jewelry items themselves were created by Picasso as a part of a small series of one-of-a-kind pieces that were then cast into silver and gold by his dentist. The first piece, a silver satyr, represents a very popular design motif often seen in his work. Also included is a brooch with an etched profile of his son Claude while still a boy. A third disc pendant includes a design of the sun. According to Eve, there is no doubt that these are pieces of Picasso’s work: “There is a playfulness and an elemental quality that only such a master could summon,” she states.
Modestly estimated to sell between 15,000 to 20,000 each, these pieces raised a predictably large buzz among art enthusiasts and collectors alike, hiking the final bids up to a total sale of $386,250. Both Carole and representatives of Skinner reported being pleased that all three pieces have remained together with a single buyer.