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It's the art world's equivalent of being struck twice by lightning.

On Friday, the 1943 Pablo Picasso painting Le Marin (The Sailor), valued at $US70 million ($93.1 million), was "accidentally damaged" at the presale exhibition of Christie's on Tuesday evening auction of Impressionist and Modern art.

Picasso's Le Marin.

"After consultation with the consignor today, the painting has been withdrawn from Christie's sale to allow the restoration process to begin," the New York auction house said in a terse statement. "We have taken immediate measures to remedy the matter in partnership with our client. No further information is available at this time."

The unnamed client of Christie's had been identified by Bloomberg in April as the casino mogul Steve Wynn, who in February resigned as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts as a result of sexual misconduct allegations.

In 2006, Wynn, who has the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, accidentally put his elbow through the canvas of Picasso's celebrated 1932 masterwork Le Reve, which he had agreed to sell for $US135 million. The painting was restored and eventually sold for $US155 million.

"These things happen," Guillaume Cerutti, Christie's chief executive, said. He declined to make any further comment.

New York Times

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