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Alberto Giacometti's head of Diego


Picking up the Picasso sculpture
Carl Djerassi Scientist
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So I started collecting works of art... of sculptors, or also painters, and there was this very amusing thing to pick up that Picasso, because it’s only very small, and Berggruen's Gallery was in... in Rue de l’Université, on the Left Bank, in Paris. A very important gallery, he was one of the main dealers of Giacometti, Picasso, Klee particularly, he has a great Klee collection. And rather than ship it to me, which was a pain in the neck to ship, you know, sculptures... customs, and so on. You have to show that this is really... not that you have to pay customs, but you have to show it’s a real original, and stuff like that. But it was so small, I said, 'Look, I’ll be in Paris in a couple of months, I’ll pick it up'. I was there for a lecture, as a chemist, and I gave the lecture, and a friend of mine, a French chemist, who also was very knowledgeable about art, was with me, and I said, 'Look, I want to stop at Berggruen...' Berggruen was a very well known gallery, so I’m just saying that he knew that, '... to pick up something'. I said, 'Let’s go there, let’s see what they have there'. So we go there, and I always carry a little bag with me, in which I put my footstool, like a woman has a bag, and I said, 'I have to pick up something'. So we were there, and... and Berggruen by that time knew me, and he kept it there for me, so I just took the Picasso figure, and his mouth dropped open. You know, there he goes, picks himself up a Picasso, and just walks off with it, which really became... was over the years magnified in rumours, by people.

Austrian-American Carl Djerassi (1923-2015) was best known for his work on the synthesis of the steroid cortisone and then of a progesterone derivative that was the basis of the first contraceptive pill. He wrote a number of books, plays and poems, in the process inventing a new genre, 'science-in-fiction', illustrated by the novel 'Cantor's Dilemma' which explores ethics in science.

Listeners: Tamara Tracz

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Gallery Berggruen, Heinz Berggruen, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Paul Klee

Duration: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008