Tretchikoff’s Green Lady is set to be auctioned off for millions next month, but the woman who inspired the portrait says she gained nothing from the painting’s popularity.
This is according to the UK newspaper The Guardian.
Vladimir Tretchikoff painted South African Monika Pon while she was working at her uncle’s laundromat in Cape Town during the 1950s. She was 17 at the time.
“When I met him, I got on with him very well. He was a nice person,” Pon said of Tretchikoff.
The original painting, one of the most reproduced fine art prints in the world, will be exhibited for four days in New York and for three days in Joburg before it goes under the hammer at Bonhams in London on March 20.
It is expected to sell for between £300 000 (R4.1 million) and £500 000.
But Pon, who was revealed as the “real” girl in the painting in 2011, told The Guardian that Tretchikoff paid her just £6 to sit for him for six weeks.
She was quoted as saying: “I was so stupid, so young. What did I know about business?
“He said: ‘I’m Tretchikoff’, and I had heard of him, I knew who he was. He said: ‘I would like to paint you.’ I was nervous, but the look in his eyes told me I could not say no.”
She said that she had told Tretchikoff the green hue in the painting made her look ill, and that she objected to it being called the Green Lady.
“There is no such thing as the ‘Green Lady’. They made a mistake.
“There is going to be an auction, and I think the name should be right. People say the ‘Green Lady’ or the ‘Blue Lady’, but they should get it right.”
The painting is also known as the “Chinese Girl”.
The mother of five is aged 80 and lives in Joburg.
“I do not mind where the painting goes, although I would prefer it to be in a museum,” she said. “South Africa would be nice. I have three daughters, and one of them said that, if she had the money, she would buy it.” - The Mercury