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An interesting aspect to this incident is the fact that this is the second time one of the owner's - casino magnate Steve Wynn - highly-valued Picasso paintings had been damaged.

For "Le Marin", Christie's had assured the seller of a minimum price and found a third-party guarantor to bid for the piece at auction.

Wynn has suffered problems over a damaged Picasso masterpiece in the past.

A damaged Picasso painting worth $70 million was yanked from an auction at Christie's this week, the New York Daily News noted.

It happened over the weekend at Christie's auction house during preparation to be sold.

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"Christie's has a very high standard of care for the objects entrusted to us and we have taken immediate measures to remedy the matter in partnership with our client", the statement continued.

The painting was worth US$139 million before it was damaged, according to a lawsuit Mr Wynn filed against the insurer, Lloyd's of London. Perhaps now he would say there is nothing as threatening as a billionaire owning one of his paintings. Wynn was originally due to sell some $150 million of art, including works by Picasso and Andy Warhol. Wynn, who has an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa which affects his peripheral vision, accidentally put his elbow into Le RĂªve back in 2006.

The nature and extent of the damage to "Le Marin" remains unclear. Christie's said it also pulled another of his paintings from the auction: Picasso's Femme au chat assise dans un fauteuil from 1964.

Wynn resigned as chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts Ltd.in February and stepped down as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee amid allegations of sexual misconduct.