According to the artist, Picabia exchanged the works (which were, depending on the retelling, owned by either his father or his uncle) one by one and then sold the originals to fund his stamp collection. His family was none the wiser that young Picabia’s forgeries now hung on their walls. “When no one had noticed, I discovered my vocation,” he recalled. Although the episode could be interpreted as a simple teenage prank (and the artist was no stranger to jokes and hijinks throughout his career), Picabia’s self-proclaimed origin story may have greater significance to his eventual practice. “Fraudulence, he came to realize,” Gordon Hughes writes in the MoMA exhibition catalogue, “is not something passed through en route to hard-earned authenticity but part and parcel of the very structure of modernism itself.”
He owned 127 cars over the course of his life.