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 euro60 million ($79.35 million), an administrator of the artist’s estate said Monday.
The couple for years squirreled away the staggering trove — which is believed to be authentic, but whose origin is unclear — in their garage on the French Riviera, said Picasso Administration lawyer Jean-Jacques Neuer.
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.
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.
“Claude Picasso was astounded. He couldn’t believe his eyes,” said Neuer. “Just about everybody has felt that way … when you have 271 Picasso works that were never seen, never inventoried — that’s just unprecedented.”
The AP attempted to reach Le Guennec by phone, but no one answered. 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. Claude Picasso insisted they came from thin air.