Price Of `Burning Man' Michael Marin's Picasso Etchings Wildly Exaggerated

Our most recent cover story on local philanthropist/real-estate player/art collector and, now, accused arsonist Michael Marin elicited a bunch of E-mails and calls, many of them rabid (see example of typical commenter in photo below).

Readers seemed to be incensed by Mr. Marin's alleged audacity in claiming that he had escaped his burning Biltmore Estates mansion by donning scuba gear and lowering himself down from the second-floor via a portable ladder.

And at least 30 people pointed out an obvious mistake in the story--yes, we know (and actually knew) that the Burning Man Festival occurs in NEVADA, not IDAHO!! Was a proverbial brain fart for which I should be tarred, feathered, chopped into pieces and fed to MCSO's Dave Hendershott on a platter.

Correction has been made on Internet version of story, but the print version will live in infamy. I'm glad (I think) that folks read this stuff so closely.

Anyway, one section of the story spoke of Mr. Marin's pride and joy, his 18 original Pablo Picasso prints, which include a complete series from 1966 entitled "Sable Mouvant." The aquatints were completed for a posthumous collection of poems by Pierre Reverdy, a onetime pal of Picasso's.


Mr. Marin spoke with deep emotion about his Picassos, and why they meant so much to him.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he told me of their purchase in a late 1990s auction. "It's one of those things where you sell the ranch and mortgage your mother to get it done."

Mr. Marin wouldn't say exactly how much he paid for them, other than to admit to "seven figures, okay?" Seven figures is a minimum of $1,000,000, right?

I wasn't able to confirm before publication of the "Burning Man" story how much the Sable Mouvant series generally was going for when he bought them. But now I have and can pass it along (one of the beauties of blogging!)

At the most, one print from the Sable Mouvant series was selling for about $8,500 in 1997, according to the Web site,

Other auctions of the prints fetched far less, according to the site.

More recently, individual prints from the series were sold for about $5,000 (that, readers, is four, not seven figures).

I don't know what Mr. Marin's other eight Picasso prints are worth on the market because I don't know the names of the pieces and their owner is unavailbale for comment at the moment.

But it seems that selling his precious and magnificent Sable Mouvant series might not even cover the cost of Mr. Marin's new criminal-defense attorney, the veteran Richard Gierloff, much less reach that "seven figures" mark.

Go figure.