Billionaire wins court room battle for Picasso sculpture worth more than $100M

From left: Leon Black, "“Bust of a Woman” and Sheik Jassim bin Abdulaziz al-Thani of Qatar
From left: Leon Black, ““Bust of a Woman” and Sheik Jassim bin Abdulaziz al-Thani of Qatar

Private equity billionaire Leon Black can breathe nine-figure sigh of relief now that his beloved Picasso sculpture is being returned to him, it’s rightful owner.

For months, Qatari billionaire, Sheik Jassim bin Abdulaziz al-Thani of Qatar, whose family boast one of priciest art collections in the world, had been waging a bitter legal war with against Black and the Gagosian Gallery.

But now Pelham Europe Ltd., a company representing the sheik, has settled, lawyers told the New York Post. 

“Bust of a Woman”
“Bust of a Woman” by Picasso

Pelham claimed that it was first to offer to buy “Bust of a Woman” from Picasso’s daughter Maya Widmaier-Picasso. But the Gagosian Gallery claimed that the sheik had only offered $42 million for the piece — a rip off. The gallery paid Widmaier-Picasso $105.8 million in 2015 for the piece. They then sold it to Black.

However, Pelham insisted that because they were the first to strike a deal — despite the inferior price — that their offer should be honored.

“Today’s settlement shows without question that the Gagosian Gallery purchased and sold this sculpture in good faith and without any knowledge of Picasso and Pelham’s prior dealings,” Gagosian rep Jeffrey Schneider said.

Pelham’s lawyer, Jo Backer Laird, told the Post that her client received an undisclosed sum from Widmaier-Picasso.

“The amount of the payment is confidential, but Pelham and its client are very happy with the settlement,” Laird said.