This Museum Will Bring a Picasso to Your House for a Day If You Make a Really Good Case for Why You Deserve It

The project #myprivatepicasso is a collaboration between the Fondation Beyeler and Swisscom, a telecommunications company.

Urs Schaeppi, CEO Swisscom, and Sam Keller, Director Fondation Beyeler, with Pablo Picassos Buste de femme au chapeau (Dora) from 1939; © Succession Picasso / 2019, ProLitteris, Zurich; Photo: Luca Schwitalla.

Have you always wanted to have a Picasso in your home, but have been held back by the minor problem of lacking millions of dollars? If you live in Switzerland, you might be in luck. The Fondation Beyeler in Basel is offering one lucky resident the opportunity to live with a Picasso from its collection in their home for one day.

To make this outlandish idea a reality, the foundation has teamed up with the Swiss telecommunications giant Swisscom, who is a major backer of the Beyeler’s new show, “The Young Picasso: Blue and Rose Periods,” on view through May 26.

For the chance to win, Picasso enthusiasts must submit their explanation for why they deserve to have the work—Picasso’s Buste de femme au chapeau (Dora) (1939), a Cubist portrait of his muse Dora Maar—in their own home. (The entries must be submitted before April 2 via social media with the hashtag #myprivatepicasso.) A panel of representatives from the museum and Swisscom will judge the contest with input from the public. The winner will spend April 19 basking in the glow of their personal Picasso.

Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) in front of one of his paintings at home in Cannes. Photo by George Stroud/Getty Images.

In a statement, the Beyeler’s director Sam Keller said that the contest is part of an effort to encourage as many people to engage with art as possible, “especially those who may be infrequent museum visitors.” (You know what they say: If the people won’t come to the Picasso, then the Picasso must go to the people.)

To be sure, the risks associated with loaning a painting of this caliber are nothing to sneeze at. “Valuable cultural assets such as Pablo Picasso’s Buste de femme au chapeau (Dora) are usually only loaned to museums with the highest security,” Keller continued.

Picasso is big business: More than $740 million worth of his art was sold at auction in 2018 alone and his works regularly crack six and seven figures. Asked about the value of the loaned work, the museum told German media only that it was worth “several million.”

That’s where Swisscom comes in. Together, security experts from the Fondation Beyeler and the telecommunications company have created a “smart frame” for the painting, which provides a stream of securely monitored data transmitted regularly, including ambient temperature, air humidity, and GPS position, according to the company. Any unauthorized movement will set off an alarm. So enjoy your Picasso—just don’t get carried away.

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