Bill Gross's Ex-Wife Stole A $35M Picasso From Their Bedroom And Replaced It With A Hand Drawing

There is a (not so) rare breed of cynic, that mocks much of "modern art", claiming a 5-year-old could "draw" it. In this particular case, they may have a point.

Whereas high-profile Wall Street divorces typically provide some entertaining grist for the gossip pages - whether it's Ken Griffin's ex-wife demanding alimony payments of $1 million a month (how else would she afford those $500,000 vacations?) or a former Miss Germany suing her hedge-fund hubby for (allegedly) giving her herpes, never before was a (fake) Picasso thrown in the mix of contested assets.

Until now, because to that list we can now add the story of Bill Gross's ex-wife Sue, who pilfered a 1932 Picasso "Le Repos", purportedly worth up to $35 million (for the market test watch tonight's Sotheby's auction) from the couple's Laguna Beach mansion.


"Le Repos" by Pablo Picasso, courtesy of Sotheby's

In the months before their separation, Sue Gross replaced the painting - which had been hanging in the couple's former bedroom - with a copy that she said she herself had painted a few years prior.

And as it turns out, despite having publicly acknowledged his ex-wife's fondness for painting replicas of their art collection, her husband never noticed. That, or it just goes to show what the intrinsic value of a Picasso is, when one's amateur painting wife can draw a replica and the billionaire purchaser will never know...

In any case, the former Mrs. Gross revealed the switcheroo during the couple's acrimonious divorce proceedings, noting that she had already taken the painting after she successfully secured control of the piece in a coin flip used to divide their assets. 

Upon learning of his wife's deception, Bill Gross was not pleased: "She stole the damn thing," Gross fumed, according to the New York Post.

The painting, titled "Le Repos", is "an intimate portrait" of Picasso's lover and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter. The couple had owned the painting since 2006.

In November testimony, the ex-wife readily admitted to swiping the Picasso, citing an e-mail Bill sent to her where he instructed her to "take all the furniture and art that you’d like."

"And so I did," she said.

But it wasn’t quite that simple, as testimony revealed the ex-wife’s prowess for both painting and artful deception.

"Well, you didn’t take it and leave an empty spot on the wall, though, did you?" lawyers for Bill Gross asked.

"No," Sue responded.

"You replaced it with a fake?" the lawyer asked.

"Well, it was a painting I painted," Sue responded.

"A replication of the Picasso?" the lawyer asked.

"A replication, yes," Sue answered.

"And it had the Picasso signature and everything, didn’t it?" the lawyer asked.

"Not exactly . . ." she said.

"Whose signature was it? Sue Gross?" the lawyer asked.

"I don’t remember how I signed it. Bill will remember because I painted it at home years ago," she said.

"Did you tell him that you took the Picasso?" the lawyer asked.

"No. We didn’t speak for a year and a half," she answered just before the line of questioning turned to a 7-foot, 300-pound rabbit sculpture she also admitted taking.

While Gross admitted that he couldn't tell the difference between the original and the wife-drawn replica, he said he wasn't surprised to learn of the original's fate.

According to court documents, Gross alleged that several other choice items had gone missing from their home shortly after their separation - including a Tiffany clock, 20 bottles of wine, Christmas decorations and a 1,000-pound-statue.

As the Post reminds us, Gross once praised his wife's painting prowess during one of his famous investor letters from June 2015, when he conceded that his wife was "the artist in the family."

"[Sue] likes to paint replicas of some of the famous pieces, using an overhead projector to copy the outlines and then just sort of fill in the spaces," Gross wrote.

"'Why spend $20 million?' she’d say - 'I can paint that one for $75,' and I must admit that one fabulous Picasso with signature 'Sue,' heads the fireplace mantle in our bedroom," Bill continued, referring to a different artwork.

Ah, the irony.

The original Picasso is expected to sell for between $25 and $35 million during a Sotheby's auction at 7pm on Monday. It is unclear if Bill will be (double) bidding on it, to assure its return back to his mansion.


Pairadimes revolla Mon, 05/14/2018 - 13:41 Permalink

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. 

The irony pours out of this story like an open sewer.

The name of the painting has the word 'repo' in it.

The only way Gross was gonna get laid was to become wealthy.

Hittin' the most expensive call girl in the world every night would have saved him a fortune.

Robin Williams once said that cocaine was God's way of telling you you make too much money. He should have included buying bullshit art like Picasso paintings, which are only worth this much because some other idiots think they are worth this much (sound like a familiar currency to you?)


In reply to by revolla

a Smudge by an… TheWholeYearInn Mon, 05/14/2018 - 12:45 Permalink

Wow. 4 years of art history in college and I've never seen this one. It's beautiful.

A lot of Picasso's cubist stuff was a reaction to ww2 which deeply traumatized him. He was kind of a tortured soul. This piece kinda suggests he wasn't in pain all the time. And that's a nice thought.

Kinda ironic. If he knew that all people were gonna do is fight over his paintings he would have burned the damn things.

Anyways. What I learned about modern art is that it's a code. It's a dialogue through time almost like Talmud. It's entirely self-referential and unless you spend a few years reading moldy old books you just can't get it. And the whole thrust of this going back generations and generations is WHAT IS THE NATURE OF REALITY? and if art is an illusion, what is life?

We are still not one iota closer to the truth on that one. Which basically renders all of art history to be about as useless as tits on a bear.

In reply to by TheWholeYearInn

True Blue a Smudge by an… Mon, 05/14/2018 - 19:15 Permalink

$35 million 'value' and some frizzy hausfrau can replicate it to such a perfect degree that its owner cannot distinguish it from the original.

Somehow, I doubt that she could manage the same with a Rembrandt -or anything else that required talent.

"Art" -Ha! Does she have a 'masterpiece' mayonnaise jar of urine too? Maybe her semen-stained, condom laced bed can be her next major 'exhibit.'

Guess I am just not 'sophisticated' enough to 'get it.'

You can keep the Yoko Ono-ite, braindead, vacuous 'supermodels' all to yourself as well.

In reply to by a Smudge by an…

vato poco a Smudge by an… Mon, 05/14/2018 - 19:42 Permalink

sadly, I think "everything you learned about modern art" was hugely overpriced bullshit. 'there's a code!' 'what's the nature of reality?' LLOZLL

oh, there's a "code" alright: it consists of 1) the artist and his reps having access to silly rich fools 2) the artist/his reps being really really good at slinging bulshit on the fly - "the McDonald's wrapper glued to the otherwise blank canvas represents a heuristic paradigm in which racist imperialist americans are forced to contemplate their existence in a queer universe", like that 3) idiot Art Fools trampling over each other following the herd. etc etc etc

it's why Modigliani paintings were worth maybe 5% of Picassos until 1980 or so. why Basquiat's crapola could have been bought 8-for-a-buck before he was anointed by The Critics, but now goes for millions. why Koons *farms out his work to low-paid subs*; only his signature is his, and the Art Fools/critics KNOW IT, and are cool with it. why photorealists - far and away the most talented artists out there - are condescendingly seen as mere draftsmen. 

"If I can do it, it ain't Art" - famous guy

and I can do modern art with my eyes closed. apparently, so could the former Mrs. Whore .... er, 'Gross'

In reply to by a Smudge by an…

bloofer spastic_colon Mon, 05/14/2018 - 09:23 Permalink

You could also call it a very high-denomination currency--a high-denomination fiat currency, with, very often, no real intrinsic value of any kind.

Art (things of beauty) do have intrinsic value, and most of us would rather have fine crystal than styrofoam cups--and will willingly pay for beautiful things if we can. But a difference of $35 million is not the difference between the beautiful and the utilitarian. It is the difference between a federal reserve note and an IOU written on a napkin. Hence, modern art need not (and generally does not) have any more value as art than those portraits of Ben Franklin we'd all like to become more familiar with. Beauty is not what it's for. It's not even intended to be art.

In reply to by spastic_colon

RedDwarf bloofer Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:59 Permalink

"You could also call it...a high-denomination fiat currency"

Another person who does not know what 'fiat' means.  It means 'by decree'.  That means by political force.  The free market, not political force, has determined this painting's price.  Which makes it the LITERAL OPPOSITE of fiat.

The day the governments of the world set the price for this painting is the day you can call it 'fiat'.

In reply to by bloofer

RedDwarf Pairadimes Mon, 05/14/2018 - 14:59 Permalink

"This is a distinction without a difference, since the market also determines the real value of any unit of fiat currency. "

BULLSHIT!  I am FORCED at the POINT OF A FUCKING GUN to accept FIAT for ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AND TO PAY TAXES!  Governments are FORCED to use USD for OIL.  Or else.  That is artifical demand, artificial supply.  NOT FREE MARKET!

You are an idiot, and so is everyone who upvoted you.

In reply to by Pairadimes

any_mouse RedDwarf Mon, 05/14/2018 - 15:42 Permalink

The market for modern art is not a free market, nor is it a public market.

The Saudi prince who spent 480 million for a forged da Vinci. He moved 480 mill USD out of MBS's reach when MBS was going medieval on the princes. The painting is a marker for the cash minus some holding fees.

The Saudi had an apartment on a floor above the auction house and on another floor in the same building was the major international bank that handled the money transfer.

The art and the money never had to leave the building.

In reply to by RedDwarf

a Smudge by an… spastic_colon Mon, 05/14/2018 - 13:26 Permalink

I can extend that by saying it's a car club.

I was a conservator at the Pepsico sculpture gardens in Purchase NY, the largest and most prestigious outdoor collection in the world and I can't remember which artist but his whole claim to fame is that he was Henry Moore's dentist. But just because he was "in the club" his crap sculpture became priceless.

Now when I say crap sculpture I mean the guy was a metalurgical disaster. He'd throw bronze, steel, copper, lead together and at this moment his stuff is rotting and rusting. The metal is literally at electrochemical war with itself. We can take solace that his life's work will end up as a pile of rust.

In reply to by spastic_colon