Tycoon derides poked Picasso insurance offer

Casino mogul Steve Wynn has described an offer by Lloyd’s of London to settle his €42m insurance claim over a damaged Picasso as “ridiculous”.

Casino mogul Steve Wynn has described an offer by Lloyd’s of London to settle his €42m insurance claim over a damaged Picasso as “ridiculous”.

Wynn, who has filed a lawsuit against the world’s biggest insurance market, made the claim after he accidentally poked a hole in the canvas with his elbow.

“They’ve started to negotiate,” he said early today, before quickly adding that the talks were not going the way he would like.

“Their offer is ridiculous,” he said, although he refused to give specifics.

He attacked the insurance industry as a whole, saying it played “dirty tricks” and it was standard practice for insurance companies to delay responding to claims in the hopes of wearing down claimants, and getting them to settle for much less than what they were owed.

“Most folks that have insurance can’t afford the legal fees so they take what they get,” he said in a telephone interview. “There’s only one way to stop this kind of thing and that is to go to court.”

But Carolyn Gorman, a vice president with the Manhattan-based Insurance Information Institute, an insurance trade association funded by property and casualty insurers, said the industry valued efficiency and sought to pay claims as quickly as possible.

Wynn filed his lawsuit on Thursday in US District Court in Manhattan, seeking to force Lloyd’s to speed up his claims for reimbursement and restoration costs for Picasso’s 1932 work, Le Reve.

Wynn’s representatives told Lloyd’s in November that the painting was worth €110m the day before Wynn damaged it in his Las Vegas office on September 30, but was believed to be worth no more than €66m afterwards.

Wynn said he bought the painting depicting Picasso’s mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, in 2001, from someone who bought it anonymously in 1997 for more than €37m. Although he said he paid more than the anonymous buyer had paid, he would not divulge the purchase price.

He said he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to insure the painting with Lloyd’s – a society of corporate underwriters and wealthy individuals that make insurance transactions through 44 managing agents and 62 syndicates.

Thor Valdmanis, a Lloyd’s spokesman, said: “This is a matter between Mr Wynn and the several underwriters involved. Therefore, it would be inappropriate for Lloyd’s to comment.”

Wynn has described the damage to the canvas as a thumb-sized flap and said it was “the world’s clumsiest and goofiest thing to do”.

A €71,000 restoration had repaired the painting but left it flawed under black light, he said.

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