The owner did not answer. He rushed into the basement, brought the painting back, cleaned it, and said, “I am happy that you came. We thought this was something stupid. This is a Picasso?”
The man said, “This is more costly than the house that you have purchased.”
Again the painting was put back on the wall. In fact, the man threw a big party for his friends to see the painting of Picasso. But one of his friends turned out to be an expert critic of paintings. He said, “This is not an original; you have been befooled. Yes, it is a copy of Picasso’s painting, but it is not an original. The people who sold you the house were not fools: if it were authentic it would mean millions of dollars, and the painting would have been removed before the house was sold. This painting is bogus.”
The man threw the painting back in the basement. Now what kind of relationship was happening between this man and the painting? This I call knowledge. He has no relationship. Somebody says, “It is a Picasso”: the painting is put up on the wall and a party is thrown. Somebody says, “It is a fake”: the painting is thrown back into the basement. If some day Picasso comes and says, “It is not a fake” – and Picasso was capable of saying this – then the painting would be back again in its old, respectable place.
It is a known fact that once Picasso said of one of his own paintings, “It is a fake.” It was sold for millions of dollars; and when the man who purchased it heard from Picasso that it was a fake…. Picasso’s girlfriend – he never had any wife, he always had girlfriends, changing as life changes, as everything changes– the girlfriend said, “But I have seen you painting this with my own eyes; I was present.”
Picasso said, “That is right. You were present, I painted it in front of you, but it is a fake.”
The owner said, “Are you mad or something? If you painted it, then how can it be fake?”
Picasso said, “Because I painted the same painting before. So what does it matter who painted it the second time? It is secondhand, it is not a true Picasso. I painted it before and it is already in the art gallery. This was just because somebody wanted to purchase something and I had no other painting and no other idea at that time. So I simply painted an old idea. I had the sketch. What does it matter whether I copy it or somebody else copies it?”
Vice versa has never happened, but I can guarantee – understanding Picasso the way I understand him – he may have said a fake painting was authentic if it was really great art. What does it matter who painted it? If a painting painted by Picasso himself can be fake, then why can’t a painting painted by somebody else and signed “Picasso” be authentic, if it is really an original piece of work?
But what about this man? He was going crazy: somebody says the painting is authentic, somebody says it is fake; and each time his relationship with the painting changes.