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Albert Scaglione, Park West Gallery® CEO, On His Early Years As A Picasso Dealer

I remember the first time I ever saw the Picasso etching "Femme assise et Femme de Dos." It was 1974 and I was in Paris in the apartment of Henri Petiet, the extraordinary art dealer. It was during one of those wonderful afternoons I spent with him that I watched in amazement when he took an entire Suite Vollard (all 100 original works) and, like a deck of cards, spread them out across the piano he used as a table for viewing art.
Although I collected my first Picasso in the 60's, it wasn’t until I met Henri Petiet that my Picasso collecting changed from a pastime to a passion.

Petiet bought the estate of Ambrose Vollard, another great art dealer who represented both Picasso and Renoir during their lifetimes. Vollard is best remembered for commissioning Picasso to create 100 etchings and engravings between 1932 and 1937. This body of work would come to be known as the “Suite Vollard.” These works were initially not signed by Picasso, but over the years Petiet paid Picasso to sign many of them.

I learned many things from Petiet during my visits: that the signing of the Suite Vollard works were typically on Sundays, that Petiet would bring lots of sharp pencils, that the signatures varied greatly as the pencils would be worn down to a nub by Picasso, that not all of the Suite Vollard works were hand signed by Picasso, that the great works (according to Petiet the great ones were those he could sell for the most money) were all signed, and that many of the less desirable ones were not.

There is so much more I could write about Petiet and those wonderful meetings in Paris: his antique trains, his fascinating stories, his Renoir collection, his recollection of Georges Roualt as a "brute of a man," his telling me that he had cancelled an appointment with the curator of a "large New York museum" so that he could see me  “that day” (I remember feeling a bit awkward  at the time) and his nearly perfect English spoken with a British accent and just a hint of French.

In Paris, I also worked with Maurice Jardot, director of the Galerie Louise Leuris. This distinguished gallery was the last publisher of Picasso and I remember my visits as being extraordinary collecting and dealing experiences. 

I remember bringing Jardot an example of the extremely rare lithograph "Portrait of Jacqueline" so that he could determine whether or not it was authentic.  After his very thorough inspection and my feeling like I was watching Sherlock Holmes on one of his missions, he finally spoke to me.  Here is what I learned that day: the work had likely been stolen from the printing atelier when it should have been destroyed; it was a flawed working proof that Picasso never had any intention of signing; both the signature and the numbers were in the wrong places on the  paper; the numbering did not match the handwriting of the actual numberer; small plate marks on the paper (almost invisible to the naked eye) were not on any of the signed works; small pinholes in the paper, caused by the proofing process, were not on any of the signed works. In short it was a forgery. More importantly, he patiently and carefully explained each step of the process and how he arrived at the fact. During that and other visits I spent many hours learning. It was a pleasure and a privilege I will never forget. 

Albert Scaglione
Park West Gallery

For more information on the Park West Gallery Picasso Collection:
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