Gary School Corp Sells Picasso Related Artwork for $20,000

Kraft Auction Services conducted an online auction with 2,000 items, among them was “the original wood model given the American Bridge to build the Chicago Picasso” according to the auction site.

Wooden Maquette of Chicago Picasso sold for $20,000.00

January 21, 2019-A Picasso related artpiece which had been owned by the Gary Community School Corporation for nearly 50 years was quietly sold in an online auction over the weekend.  According to, the piece represented “a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase the original wood model given to American Bridge to sculpt the “Chicago Picasso.”  The piece was included in an auction of approximately 2,000 other pieces and received little fanfare.  A 2005 article in the Chicago Tribune discussed the significance of the piece and suggested it could be very valuable.  (See How Much for that Wooden Picasso, James Janega, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 28, 2005 )

The wooden piece stands 12 and a half feet tall according to the auction listing which described the item as “Original Chicago Picasso Wood Working Model.”  Despite suggestions in the 2005 Chicago Tribune article of various methods of authentication to enhance the value of the piece, it appears that little in the way of verification was offered to potential bidders.  The Auctioneer included the 2005 article as well as a 1970 article showing that the piece was donated to the Gary Community School Corporation.

The cash strapped Gary Community School Corporation has a vast collection of artwork and the worth of the pieces is not known to residents.  In 2015, after it was discovered that several valuable pieces of art were left unsecured in Lew Wallace High School, Administrators stated they moved all artwork to a secure location and purchased insurance on the artwork.


  1. Some questions:Who bid on it? Any Gary Community School Corporation members or relatives? This should have been heavily advertised and fetched ten times as much!

  2. This was advertised worldwide and a buyer from Belgium bought it. Unfortunately this is not a true Picasso, but a model of a Picasso made of plywood. The market determined the value and this was the value of it. One other factor on the value was the condition the piece was in. It is in need of repair/restoration from damage from students over the years.

    I really dislike articles like this. Where was the press before it sold? It was not newsworthy then, but now it is because it was perceived to sell for less then it was worth it is newsworthy. We pride ourselves in marketing items to the best we can, and had bidders from over 70 countries registered and bidding in this sale. Everyone interested in the piece was bidding and the true value was determined.

  3. This was a well publicized auction with bidders from 70 countries. The buyer of this piece is from Belgium with the contending bidder being a Chicago collector. This piece is a plywood model of Picasso’s original piece, and not done by Picasso. This was a model built to be used by American Bridge to build the large Chicago Picasso in Chicago. The original Picasso is at the Art Institute.

    This was a live and online auction with bidders being able to bid onsite, online or via phone. Both the top bidders bid by phone and went back and fourth bidding on it. The piece has several challenges that do not make it worth what many might think. 1) It is not an original Picasso, but a model of a Picasso. 2) Size. This stands 16′ tall with the base. Very challenging to find a buyer with the space or who can afford to move it. 3) Condition. The piece is in need of restoration as it has damage and missing pieces after sitting in the gym at the Career Center for many years.

    We are professionals at marketing unique items, and this was one of them of them in the sale. The final part of the sale will be held this weekend with another 2000 items being sold. Go to to see the full sale listing.

    • New commenters must be approved and I was at a school board meeting so I just got to approving them. We appreciate your feedback and approved both comments because they were slightly different.

  4. Jonathon Kraft the article was not being critical of you or Kraft auctions, but the Gary Community School Corporation. Your advertising is viral, this auction had over 1200lots. Many of us in Gary have tried for decades to get a clear invoice of the pieces, many missing and abroad. Had the School Corporation and city advertised it more, I think the bidc would have been much higher and beneficial to all. My 2 cents

    • I am sorry, but it is not the schools job to advertise the sale. That is our job and what we were hired to do. This is what I do for a living, so when someone infers an item did not sell for its full value it is being critical of my company.

      I tried reaching out to newspapers to run an article on the sale prior to it going up for sale, and no one wanted to run an article on it for some reason. Though ads were run in local newspapers and online for local buyers. For advanced collectors we advertised in national and worldwide publications for collectors, plus this piece was advertised on the world hub for art sales. As the reasons I stated in my second post, that is why it sold for what it did. Most people would be impressed that a damaged piece of plywood sold for $20,000, but I guess not everyone.

      In the article it states if more authentication was done it could of sold for more, what kind of authentication do they mean? There is no issue with the history of the piece. We know why it was made and the purpose of it. Picasso did not make this piece, but it was made for his approval and then to go to American Bridge.

      In my opinion this article should have been about how a piece that had been sitting in a gym for 50 years is now going to have a new life and be appreciated by a collector instead of being abused by students. Kids literally wrote their name in markers, stuffed trash between it, and have broke off pieces. It would have also been helpful if the author would reach out to me for comment prior to writing this and I could fill them in with the actual interest we had in the piece. 5 bidders competed for the piece in the end from Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio and Belgium. The final bidding went down to a collector of architectural artifacts from Chicago and an art collector from Belgium, with the Belgium buyer coming out on top.

      If anyone has questions or the author would like to know more about the sale, I would be happy to answer them. My email is

  5. I am also posting again .. Jonathon I believe the article is critical of GCSC, not Kraft. Your catalogs get attention, it was advertised and did well. The history of the Art collection includes no invoice of all the pieces, ( many which are quite valuable), promises of being secured, etc. and then of course GCSC and state not advertising these. Its n ot your responsibility .

  6. Jonathon, the 2005 PT article (thank you for the link) has experts detailing authentication efforts that should have been undertaken. That is where that comment originated. Referring to it as “a piece of plywood” causes great concern. Again, thank you for your comments. I am working on a follow up article.

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