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Picasso & Guggenheim

"Entering Picasso's studio in Paris, in 1940, Peggy Guggenheim found the Master surrounded by a group of admirers.

"Her artistic mission for the past several months -- to buy a picture a day -- was widely known; most artists and dealers, anticipating a German attack, were desperate to sell anything they could before packing or hiding their works and fleeing the city. Leger, Giacometti, Man Ray: all eagerly delivered their work to the gawky American heiress, and few objected to her haggling over price. There were not many buyers, after all...

"She had a list, compiled by experts, of artists who should be included in a first-class modern collection, and it had not taken her long to acquire a painting or sculpture by almost every one.

"The great exception, who ignored her pointedly as she hovered in his studio, finally glanced up to inform her that she had arrived at the wrong location. 'Madame,' Picasso said as he dismissed her, 'you will find the lingerie department on the second floor.'"

[Picasso, famously contemptuous of female artists, earned a measure of notoriety for his remark about women being "goddesses or doormats."]

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