A Staten Island man, who found a work of art in his aunt’s crawlspace, is now on the verge of receiving a potential $13 million appraisal. After numerous attempts to verify the authenticity of the piece, it has been determined that the artwork is a long-lost painting from the Spanish master Pablo Picasso.
Carl Sabatino first learned of the painting back in 2004 when his aunt, Jenny Verrastro, told him from her deathbed to look for the painting in the crawlspace of her home. When he found the painting he noticed that it possessed the signature of Picasso.
Sabatino began investigating the piece of art and discovered that it was a recreation of the Spanish painter’s Women With A Cape, which has been on display at the Cleveland Museum for over 50 years. He was convinced that he had found long-lost masterpiece, convincing others proved to be much more difficult.
When he took the painting to one New York auction house, they dismissed the artwork as a cheap poster. They were convinced that the color print – a rarity in Europe during World War II – meant that the piece had to have come from someone who had access to high end tools.
This spurred Sabatino to begin analyzing Picasso’s pre-war years in France in an attempt to prove that his artwork was legitimate. Research led him to the discovery of evidence that Picasso employed a color printing technique using gum bichromate around 1936. With this new evidence, he brought the painting to another art expert to analyze the material.
Dr. Kenneth Smith examined pigment extracted from the painting, which revealed that the material was consistent with what was used in the 1930’s. Dr. Smith also discovered part of a thumbprint, which if true, would be a first for Picasso. The fingerprint is currently under review by a forensic expert in Washington for comparison with a plaster cast of Picasso’s hand.
One world-renowned art appraiser has already valued the painting at $13 million. Should the forensic analysis reveal that Picasso’s thumb print was preserved with the painting, then the value of the painting could rise significantly.