Art Experts Predict 'The Scream' Will Sell for $135 Million at Sotheby's on May 2nd

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Picasso's Record Price of $106 Million Will be Broken by Edvard Munch, Say Authors of The Art Hunters Handbook

Will the current $106.5 million record price for a painting sold at auction be broken in May? "Nude, Green Leaves And Bust" by Pablo Picasso was sold by Christie's on May 4, 2010. The painting was created in 1932, the same year Picasso painted "La Reve", the masterpiece owned by billionaire casino owner Steve Wynn. In 2006, La Reve was almost sold privately for $139 million before it was accidentally damaged.

Art Hunters Handbook authors Les and Sue Fox predict that Picasso's record price will be broken by an 1895 pastel drawing of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. Sotheby's will auction "The Scream" in New York on May 2, 2012. The pre-sale estimate is $80 million, but the Foxes would not be surprised if it sold for $135 million. (A video of the 2010 Picasso auction at Christie's can be seen at http://www.AmericanArtAdvisor.com, along with the Steve Wynn story.)

Among 9,000 Picasso auctions, two paintings have sold for $100 million apiece, compared to two Munches that have sold for "only" $30 to $40 million. "The Scream" could triple the artist's current high price. Paintings are not the only high-value Picassos. A dozen pencil drawings by the artist have sold for $750,000 to $2.6 million, and hundreds more for $25,000 to $250,000. A pen and ink drawing sold for $902,500 in 2006. A crayon drawing sold at auction for $1.5 million in 2010. Finding a Picasso at a garage sale is everyone's dream.

But what are the odds of finding a real Picasso at a garage sale? Of 240,000 artists in The Art Hunters Handbook whose paintings might turn up, Les and Sue Fox rank Pablo Picasso low on the list. "Google Fake Picasso," suggests Les, "and you will see millions of web pages! On the other hand, the odds of finding a genuine oil painting by a more down-to-earth artist, like New England Impressionist Emile Gruppe and thousands of less famous artists, are in your favor if you read our new book." Like Picasso, Gruppe was born in the late 19th century and lived until the 1970's. Gruppe was also a prolific artist, cranking out 10,000 paintings at his studio in Gloucester, Massachusetts. However, unlike Picasso, when a painting by Emile Gruppe surfaces at a garage sale, it's probably not a forgery. The typical oil painting by Gruppe is a winter landscape or harbor scene worth $5,000 to $15,000.

Picasso, on the other hand, is in price range that encourages, or at least tempts talented artists to try their luck at creating something that can't be distinguished from the original. It rarely works out that way. In 2010, an antiques dealer sold a fake Picasso titled Woman In Blue Hat for $2 million, got caught, and ended up in the big house. (Not the Metropolitan Museum of Art.) A few years ago, eBay was notorious for "questionable" Picassos.

While thousands of artists like Emile Gruppe are discovered by "art hunters" every year, and sold for $5,000 to $25,000, the reward for finding a real Picasso is much greater.

The bad news for would-be Antiques Roadshow guests is that they will probably not find a real Picasso (or a Munch) at a garage sale, a flea market or at Goodwill. Genuine Picassos almost always come with "provenance", which is the history of ownership, exhibitions, documentation and publications associated with a painting. Sellers of fake Picassos often include forged letters, museum and gallery labels, invoices and other false "proof" of authenticity. In The Art Hunters Handbook, the Foxes reveal trade secrets to finding authentic paintings and avoiding fakes. They urge readers to search for lesser known artists, many of whom are still worth millions of dollars. The cover of their book features Ripening Pears, an 1884 still life bought at a garage sale for $5 in 2001 and sold to the National Gallery of Art for $1,000,000 in 2004, with the complete story of the discovery and the artist (Joseph Decker) in the first chapter of the new book. "Never assume a painting isn't valuable just because you don't like it, especially modern art," cautions Sue Fox. "You might miss out on a good one."

Among the artists most likely to be found is Emile Gruppe, with 1,300 listed auctions in online databases. His record auction price is a mere $59,500 for a large winter landscape, a pittance compared to Picasso's $106 million, but a windfall for anyone who can buy a nice Gruppe for a few hundred dollars. The Foxes showcase 120 American, European and Latin American artists in their book, which is available on Amazon and eBay. "Dozens of people approach us every month with valuable art they found," notes Les. "A lot of it is lithographs, signed limited editions and other reproductions, which are usually worth only a fraction of the value of an original. But our book is filled with stories of people who found great art for very little money."

The Foxes also offer free art appraisals and an Art Auction Partnership program on their website.

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