Saturday, July 9, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Casino magnate Steve Wynn has purchased four 18th century Chinese porcelain vases at a London auction for $12.8 million to adorn his new Cotai Resort Hotel in Macau. It’s just the latest in his string of art purchases that have distinguished him as a bona fide art collector. Here are some examples of his taste in fine art:
“Fiori di Como” — rumored to be upward of $40 million
The Bellagio lobby is spectacular. Much of the ceiling is covered by the world’s largest glass sculpture, created by Seattle artist Dale Chihuly. It consists of 2,000 pieces of handblown glass flowers.
“Peasant Woman Against a Background of Wheat” — $47.5 million
Painted in June 1890, by Vincent Van Gogh, it shows a young woman in a yellow bonnet, sitting in front of the sort of wheat stalks Van Gogh went out among weeks later to shoot himself. Wynn, who bid on the painting at auction in 1997, privately acquired the work several months later from the unidentified buyer for an undisclosed, supposedly lower price. Kenneth Griffin acquired it in 2004 from Wynn.
“Le Reve,” French for “The Dream” — approximately $60 million
This 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso is of his much younger mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. Wynn acquired the painting in 2001 from investment fund manager Wolfgang Flöttl for an undisclosed amount, estimated to be about $60 million.
Wynn liked the painting so much, he once considered naming his resort, Wynn Las Vegas, after it. In 2006 he planned to sell it to Steven Cohen for $139 million, which would have been the highest price paid for any piece of art. But that fell through after he put his elbow through the canvas while showing it to guests.
After a $90,000 repair, the painting was estimated to be worth $85 million. Wynn sued his insurance company over the $54 million difference with the virtual selling price, possibly exceeding his own buying price. The case was settled out of court in April 2007.
J.M.W. Turner’s “Giudecca, La Donna Della Salute and San Giorgio” — $35.8 million
This work was sold to a mystery telephone bidder at Christie’s auction house in New York for $35.8 million. People familiar with the transaction, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the buyer was Wynn.
“Dancer Taking her Bow” for $12 million
This piece was acquired by Mirage Resorts in 1997, according to the company’s 1997 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Wynn purchased the Edgar Degas painting from the resort in 1998, to display at the Bellagio.
Ming Dynasty vase — $10 million
In May 2006, Wynn set a world record for Ming porcelain when he purchased a rare underglaze copper-red Ming Dynasty vase for $10 million. The vase, dated to 1368-1644, was displayed in the VIP wing at the opening of Wynn Macau and then donated to the Macau government.
“Young Woman Seated at a Virginal” — $30 million
The painting by Johannes Vermeer was sold to Wynn for $30 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2004. It was the first Vermeer painting to come on the market in more than 80 years. Wynn later sold the painting to a private buyer for the same price he purchased it for.