lost picassos found – honest guv, they wuz gifts!

29 November 2010 § Leave a comment

It appears that a batch of  ‘missing’ Picassos has been discovered in the possession of a retired electrician Pierre Le Guennec, who worked on Picasso’s Cote d’Azur properties. It seems that he holds around 271 (yes, two hundred and seventy-one!) never previously seen works that including notebooks, nine cubist collages and paintings from Picasso’s “blue” period.

Their estimated worth has been put at around 60 million euros (about £50 million) – with the nine cubist works at £33 million alone. Unusually for an early ‘snap’ estimate this seems quite reasonable – or even low. What sort of value could one put on a contemporary notebook for example?

Picasso cubist collage

The electrician had contacted the Picasso estate to verify that the works were genuine – as they indeed were – but he also got a call from the police for his trouble. They responded by confiscating the lot. Le Guennec argued that the works were gifts from Picasso, but the estate rejected his claim stating that ‘Picasso was reasonably generous, but he always kept a date, signed and dedicated his donations to whom they were destined for, as he knew that sometimes they would be sold to help resolve economic problems’.

Picasso’s son, Claude, said that he called the police to prevent division of the collection. His lawyer has also insisted that Picasso had never made donations as generous, implying that this could be treated as theft.

One wonders how anyone could steal 271 items without being noticed and surely it will be impossible for the family estate to prove theft. My suspicion is that the works will soon be back with the electrician and, not long after that, they should be gracing the catalogue of a forthcoming Sotheby’s sale!

Les Templiers Bar Collioure

Le Guennec ‘s claim is reminiscent of the gifting of works by impoverished artists to any number of cafes, bars and guesthouses. Of these I highly recommend a trip to the delightful French village of Collioure close to the Spanish border. Drop in to (you can also stay) Les Templiers for a glass of Banyuls with the locals whilst admiring some of the hundreds of gifted works from the likes of Dufy, Mucha and Dali that grace the walls. Fantastic – and definitely not stolen!

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