Picasso and the gangster

'You can't call yourself an artist and not f**king like Picasso!'

He had contacted me on the pretext of wanting a commission, which may or may not have been true.

He was a successful businessman, but the scars on his face and the flinty fire in his eyes belied a tough background. He had the bullet holes in his leg to prove it.

He'd left school with one O'level (in art) but took the opportunity of a stint in prison to catch up with his education before forging ahead with his own businesses. And developing an unnerving habit of dancing and driving at the same time while flying women around in his screaming black Ferrari.

'How did you do it?' I asked.

'I put myself in situations where there is no option of failing,' he replied. 'There is no Plan B.'

He also opened my mind to a whole new level of reality that I didn't know was there – a reality of big ideas, no limits and the magic of humankind. He gave me a copy of Don Quixote, printed in 1861. 'Keep believing in your dreams.'

The day after I admitted that I didn't really 'get' Picasso, I found myself on a plane heading to Barcelona, where we visited the Picasso Museum.

Of course, the liaison didn't last, but my appreciation of Picasso has.


'Le Rêve' ( The   Dream ), Pablo Picasso 

'Le Rêve' (The Dream), Pablo Picasso