Picasso Treasure Trove Unveiled in France
Monday, November 29, 2010
A retired French electrician and his wife have come forward with 271 undocumented, never-before-seen works by Pablo Picasso, estimated to be worth at least $79.35 million.
The couple for years squirreled away the works in their garage on the French Riviera, said Picasso Administration lawyer Jean-Jacques Neuer, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The cache, dating from the artist's most creative period from 1900 to 1932, includes lithographs, portraits, watercolors and sketches -- plus nine Cubist collages. The French daily paper Liberation first reported on the discovery on Monday.
Pierre Le Guennec, a 71-year-old former electrician who once worked for Picasso, and his wife showed many of the works to Picasso's son Claude and other estate administrators in Paris in September seeking to have the works certified as authentic, the lawyer said.
Shortly after that meeting, Neuer filed suit on behalf of Picasso's heirs for alleged illegal receipt of the works - and police investigators are looking into how Le Guennec and his wife came by the pictures.
The couple said that they were given the works by Picasso and his wife, Jacqueline, according to a police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is under way.
Claude Picasso, quoted in Liberation, noted that his father was known for his generosity -- but that he always dedicated, dated and signed his gifts, as he knew that some recipients might try to sell the works one day.
"To give away such a large quantity, that's unheard-of. It doesn't hold water," Claude Picasso was quoted in Liberation as saying. "This was part of his life."
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art says Picasso produced more than 20,000 works of art during his long career. Hundreds have been listed as missing -- a number so large in part because he was so prolific.
Liberation said the former electrician claimed to have worked at three of Picasso's residences -- and once installed a security alarm system for the artist.