The art of the deal in Bill Gross’s divorce

What does billionaire bond guru Bill Gross and I have in common?

We both miss decorative changes our wives make inside our homes on a daily basis.Gross and his wife owned a 1932 Pablo Picasso painting entitled “Le Repos” hanging in their Pacific coast mansion bedroom in Laguna Beach.

Well this is where it gets weird. Sue Gross some years ago painted a rendering of the Picasso, which I assume was a close enough copy that Bill Gross applauded her effort. She told him at the time, “Why pay $20 million for it, when I can do it for $75.00,” according to court papers.  And by the way she signed it Sue.

Fast forward a few years as the marriage is headed to divorce and Sue Gross takes the Picasso original out of the frame and replaces it with her signed copy. Bill Gross is none the wiser that his $20 million piece of art has been replaced.

When it comes to divvying up the martial assets the Gross’s flip a coin to see who goes first in choosing which assets go to whom. Very much like a picking sides when playing sports as a kid (I’m dating myself here).

Sue Gross wins the coin flip and says, I’ll take the Picasso.  Bill says ok, I’ll arrange to have it delivered to you. Sue says, don’t bother I already have it, what sits in our former bedroom is my copy.

So why did Bill Gross’s people come out with this story over the weekend, well like any clever money man, It was to create a buzz and back story for a piece of art scheduled to be on the block at  Sotheby’s Monday evening. And instead of being worth $20 million the woman in repose is expected to fetch as much as $35 million.

With this back story, it could be $40 million and that would not be called Gross negligence.

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