An immense collection of 271 previously unknown works by Pablo Picasso has turned up in southern France, uncovered by a 71-year old retired electrician and his wife.
The couple claims they received the works as gifts from Picasso or Picasso's wife. But Picasso's heirs have filed a complaint alleging the receipt of stolen goods, according to a report in Monday's French newspaper Liberation.
The works have a combined estimated worth of some 60 million euros (about $80 million). Jean-Jaques Neuer, a lawyer for the Picasso estate, said the couple showed many of the works to Picasso's son Claude and other administrators in September in order to have the canvases authenticated.
Claude Picasso and his employees examined the paintings in Paris for more than three hours, and said the works seem to be authentic. "I was very surprised. I was very excited to discover works we didn't know about," said Picasso.
He added that he was confused that the paintings were without dates, adding that they shouldn't have left Picasso's studio. "Those who know my father's work know that he would systematically put a date on everything," he said.
Works have been seized
The retired electrician, Pierre Le Guennec, said he had worked for Pablo Picasso during the last three years of his life, installing alarm systems at his residences. Picasso died in 1973.
Claude Picasso has dismissed Le Guennec's claim, saying that he could not have received the works as gifts since his father would not have given away such a large quantity of paintings to anyone.
"That doesn't stand up," Picasso said. "It was a part of his life."
After Picasso's heirs filed the complaint in September, the works were seized from the couple's home and Le Guennec was taken into custody.
The trove consists of notebooks, drawings and completed paintings. According to experts, the nine cubist works alone are worth some 40 million euros. Also part of the collection is a watercolor from Picasso's blue period, portraying his first wife Olga.
Author: Sarah Steffen (AFP, AP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler