A silver plate crafted by Pablo Picasso titled ‘Visage aux Mains’, from 1956 and valued at $85,000, or £55,000 – was stolen from the Art Basel Miami Beach, police said on Friday. “I’ve been doing art shows all my life,” David Smith, owner of the Amsterdam-based Leslie Smith Gallery, which owned the Picasso work, told the Miami Herald. “I’ve never, ever had anything stolen.”
The theft of the work apparently occurred overnight, a police source told AFP. The 1956 work, “Visage aux mains,” one in a series of 20 silver plates by the Spanish artist, disappeared from one of the many exhibition halls set up around Miami in parallel to the annual Art Basel fair.
The work measuring 16.5-inch (40-centimetre) plate, featuring a simplistic face and hands, had been put on display at the Art Miami display on Monday. According to the owner, a security guard saw the plate during regular rounds of the exhibit on Thursday night, but when the collector arrived Friday morning, the plate was gone.
The plate was the only item to disappear from the gallery, even though there were items installed of greater value, including a Picasso ceramic valued at $365,000 or £234,000 Smith added. But the plate’s small size made it easier to remove, the owner suggested, adding that the theft had been reported to an international registry of stolen art aimed at blocking black-market sales. The exhibition hall is guarded 24 hours a day, but is lacking security cameras in all of its areas.
Whoever pilfered the plate apparently either had a sole focus on stealing the work; or simply didn’t bother swiping any of the other works of art, including the Picasso ceramic piece of greater value mentioned, that was directly below the plate.