'Times' Questions Picasso's Authenticity, Inauthentically

For those of you keeping track at home, let's run down the tortured history of the Times coverage of that Picasso sold through Costco.com.

First came the initial article, by Carol Kino, on Thursday, March 16. It seemed simple enough: A Newport Beach meat distributor bought a Picasso crayon drawing on Costco's website for $39,999.99. It came with a certificate of authenticity signed by Picasso's daughter. The daughter called the certificate a forgery and the drawing therefore likely to be inauthentic; Costco pointed out that all its merchandise is returnable; and the meat distributor seemed happy to hold on to his maybe-not-Picasso anyway.

But then things got more interesting.

Then the next day, Friday, March 17, the Times ran a four-paragraph correction. The paper explained that it had asked Picasso's daughter to look at the wrong certificate of authenticity. It was for a different drawing, which Costco did not sell, and she had not looked at the certificate for the drawing Costco did sell. And no one — Costco, the buyer/meat distributor, the daughter/authenticator — would cooperate in the paper's effort to check the correct certificate.

Saturday, the Times published a new article, this time by Kino and Daphne Angles. Picasso's daughter had now looked at a digital image of the meat distributor's drawing, and she was now declaring it to be a forgery. This time, though, she didn't see the certificate, because Costco and the meat distributor still wouldn't provide it.

And then today yet another correction ran, this time correcting the first correction:

A correction on Friday misspelled the surname of the Picasso daughter who disputed the authenticity of a drawing attributed to him that was not sold through Costco. She is Maya Widmaier-Picasso, not Widmayer-Picasso.

We can't wait for tomorrow to see what new articles, corrections, backtracking articles, corrections of backtracking articles, or corrections of corrections of corrections appear. With Alessandra lately — and finally! — on good behavior, thank God for Kino, Costco, and the Picassos. Otherwise we'd be having much less fun.

It's a Costco, But Is It a Picasso? Art Sale in Doubt [NYT]
Corrections: March 17 [NYT]
Picasso's Daughter Says Drawing Is a Fake [NYT]
Corrections: March 21 [NYT]
Related: Alessandra Stanley: Newsroom Slacker [Reference Tone]