Wednesday, June 27, 2012
BRAVE AND MY AUDITION TO BE MADAME PICASSO
“Brave” brought back my feelings of being engaged to Pablo Picasso’s son Claude, whom I wanted to marry. My father, my mother and my sister had wanted me to marry him as well. Of course money, property and prestige and their desire for my well-being were their motivations, just as Queen and King Magus’s in "Brave" were for their daughter Merida.
When Picasso died in 1973, under the moonlight in the graveyard of the Chateau des Vauvenauges, Claude asked me to be his wife. At this time, Claude’s mother began a massive lawsuit for Picasso’s estate, all of his paintings and seven castles.
When I met Claude in 1971, he was penniless, while I was a top model photographed for the covers of Newsweek, Cosmopolitan and New York. I was a success financially. Feeling sorry for Claude, whose father had tried to arrest him as a young teenager and had exiled Claude from his life, I offered to support him. His grandmother was wealthy but gave him no money. Claude wore my ex-husband’s clothing -- and some of mine.
In 1974, Francoise Gilot bought me a wedding dress and won her lawsuit against the French government. Claude, Paloma and Maya would be rich. Still, the flow-through from the government did not happen quickly, and for one year we lived off of my savings.
Claude began to change. I began to feel pressure from the family Picasso to dress a certain way and to be careful not to do anything that would tarnish the Picasso image. In "Brave," Merida felt pressure from her parents, the King and Queen. But the Picasso family’s image was one of illegitimate children not recognized by Picasso. This reason I disclose in my new memoir. Suddenly the clothing I bought for myself had to be approved by Claude, yet I was paying for this clothing with my money. Like Merida, my freedom was being erased.
In 1975, my wedding dress was dusty. From Paris, I called home to my mother in Philadelphia to find out about my father. In 1955, my father had been given a needless lobotomy to find out the reason for an uncontrollable twitch. During the operation the doctors discovered he had been suffering from Parkinson’s and apologized. My father, Herbert Emile Wagner, had worked at the Philadelphia National Bank and been known as an employee who never made a mistake. "Death of a Salesman" could have been his story.
“How’s Pop?”, I asked mother.
“Didn’t you get my letter? He tried to commit suicide. Carbon monoxide. He’s in the Lankenau Hospital.”
“I’ll be home tomorrow,” I said through my tears.
I turned to Claude and asked, ”When are we getting married?”
He was silent.
“You’re doing to me what Picasso did to your mother!", I shouted.
He slammed his fist into the wall.
“If you want me, I’ll be in New York,” I said as I grabbed our toy poodle, Tutu, and boarded the first plane in the morning.