Imagine this: Picasso’s priceless work, its existence a secret shared by few, reappears after half a century. In the sale of real estate in the suburbs of New Jersey. Tucked inside a frame, hidden behind another artwork.
Art collector Keith Coppola says the truth is beyond anyone’s imagination — and insists he’s not inclined to windmills with the story of Picasso’s long-unseen discovery of Don Quixote and his friend Sancho Panza buying $75 worth of artwork in the Garden State.
The work, dating back to February 11, 1955, and delivered to Springsteen grounds just months later, is the real deal, confirmed by years of digging and validated by a cadre of world-renowned experts, according to Coppola.
He invested more than a dozen years in trying to convince Picasso’s estate of the existence of the masterpiece, a quest that brings to mind a familiar figure of fiction.
“The whole thing is as everyone said to me, ‘You’re Don Quixote! I’ve become him,'” Coppola admits. “No one believes you, it is highly unlikely yet that you do not want to believe me. But then again, I have plenty of evidence that you must believe me if you really look at it.”
He said that the ink-brush work of the two characters conjured up by author Miguel de Cervantes in the early 17th century was created before Picasso’s second incarnation accepted academically. This copy, signed by the artist on August 10, 1955, is still stored inside a basement vault in the French Basilica of Saint-Denis.
The work was shown in the French weekly Les Lettres Francaises to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first part of Cervantes’ epic novel “Don Quixote”, published in 1605.
But Coppola could spend hours recounting the minute details of his February artwork and its multiple contradictions with the later piece: its subtle incorporation of horoscopes in homage to Picasso’s late wife, a hidden phallic symbol, the open mouth of a donkey that belonged to Sancho – and even its size: 62 inches x 48 inches, compared to 65 x 50 in the version known to the world.
Coppola, 55, a former Jersey youth now in South Carolina, notes that the February date in his work coincides with the death of Picasso’s 37-year-old wife and the inspiration of ballerina Olga Khokhlova—a pivotal link to the truth.
“It was Picasso’s goddess,” he said, “a spiritual inspiration,” and now her existence is denied since he revived her. Without Olga, there would be no Don Quixote. ”
He also cites Picasso’s memoirs Pal Peter Smith with the December 1955 entry noting specifically that “Arthur and Margarita have returned to New Jersey with Don Quixote B. Too Big.”
Reference is made to Arthur Getz and Margarita Gibbons, friends of the artist.
Smith, in an earlier entry, also referred to Picasso’s earlier work on March 17, 1955. Since the other Don Quixote was undoubtedly created seven months later, Coppola said, the fact of his work is impossible to deny.
Experts at Sotheby’s declined to comment, citing a “no comment” policy on unverified works. An email to reputable Christie’s auction house about the lot has not been answered.
Picasso’s succession suggested, in an email from the Paris headquarters where he oversees the artist’s estate, that Coppola simply discovered “a copy of the drawing made by a Communist Society in the 1960s” based on his initial appeal to the group in 2010.
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Coppola replied, “The succession states that the work may be a copy of Les Letters Francaises, which is surely a mistake on their part.” “Plus, the work done for the Communist Party is Augustus Don Quixote, not mine.”
The estate failed to mention a second submission from Coppola four years later with more evidence, and a personal attempt at verification yielded no decision in 2015. A live meeting scheduled for 2020 was canceled by COVID-19, and Coppola is still waiting for the last chance to present his piece to the Rangers. Picasso portals.
The Daily News was allowed to view the work, though no photos were taken.
Coppola, in addition to his experts in art, hired specialists in forgery, paper, ink, canvas, and even the artist’s signature to examine the piece, with all he echoed for his conclusion. One of Christie’s experts checked out former Don Quixote, and he stopped a short distance from the seal of approval but was visibly impressed, he recalls.
Coppola insists it is a “masterpiece”. “And a magical one beyond imagination.”
A veteran art collector, who nearly lost his one-of-a-kind work in an apartment fire before realizing its value, plans to release it. Series of NFTs Associated with Don Quixote in an effort to let people decide for themselves – and to urge Picasso’s estate to take another look.
“We want to show it to the court of public opinion, because we have a lot of evidence,” he said. “We feel that instead of going back and forth with Picassos, we’re going to let anyone with an opinion — they can fight it.”