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Possible Picasso

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A Jefferson County man has high hopes of rocking the art world with what he believes is an original Picasso.

It has been nearly 60 years since Pablo Picasso sketched a controversial portrait of communist leader Joseph Stalin.

Is it possible the work has surfaced near Pine Bluff?

It is no overstatement that this discovery has the potential to change the course of James Watson's life….but only if it is real.

We met Watson and his brother inside the Arkansas Art Center, where his charcoal sketch has been graciously stored for more than a decade.

Watson found it nearly 30 years ago while antiquing.

"I took a stop there that day and I went in there and I seen some old baseball bats and I seen an old BB gun and then I seen this picture on the floor and I asked the guy 'What do you want for it?" recalls Watson.

The answer?  $20.00.

The invention of the Internet has made it much easier to research art.

Picasso did in fact sketch the charcoal caricature of Stalin for a French communist newspaper. It did not get warm reviews…seen as unflattering, insulting and insufficiently lifelike.

The whereabouts of the controversial 1953 sketch…lost to time.

Could this politically charged Picasso work have resurfaced in the unlikeliest of places…Arkansas?

We took the work to art dealer and evaluator Greg Thompson in North Little Rock.

"In this drawing of Stalin that has circulated throughout the Internet and the world, there are a lot of subtle nuances," explains Thompson.  "How he has shaped the head, the ears and the overall composition that let me know that this is a Picasso. But when I look at this drawing (the one purchased by Watson) I don't see those nuances. I see what appears to me to be a finely done copy of a very publicized drawing."

Thompson has agreed to check the work against the Zervos Catalogue....an exhaustive record of all of Picasso's work.

If it is in there…we'll let you know.

But even if it is not…Watson remains convinced he has a real Picasso in his possession.

Watson says he wanted to get it looked at and evaluated long ago but life just got in the way.  He says a lot of other things in his life took priority. He battled a brain tumor at age 28, his wife died about ten years later and just working to pay the bills took up most of his time and energy.   

Air date:  Sept. 27th, 2012