In 1979, the pilot for personal reasons, decided to sell his painting and contacted Sotheby’s in order to have the painting offered for auction… but the auction house disregarded his letter immediately - stipulating that he had a fake print.
The pilot realizing that there must have been a misunderstanding sent a follow up letter dated December 12, 1979 to the Head of Oil Paintings Department for Sotheby. In this letter he clarified that the item in question was not a print but an original oil on canvas dimensions 23 ⅞” x 27 ⅞” signed and dated 10-3-1947. He further explained his story as to how he came into possession of the painting.
Sotheby’s responded by asking him to bring the original in for inspection and on January 17, 1980, he brought the painting to the New York office for personal inspection. At this meeting, the painting was determined in her opinion to be “painted-over-print”, and furthermore that Picasso “was not creating this type of work in 1947”.
The pilot was completely taken back and extremely offended by the acquisition that he had painted over a print and tried to pass off a forgery.
Finally the Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s wrote in a letter dated February 1, 1980 suggesting the pilot find additional third party proof to provide as evidence as to the authenticity of the painting.
To fully understand the outrage that the pilot felt - you would need to know his background to realize that his integrity had never been questioned before. He was a highly respected professional. And with his background - he was most definitely offended at any acquisition as to his word.