Trove of 271 Picasso Paintings Found in House of Retired Electrician

In what could prove one of the interesting lawsuits over art ownership in decades, the estate of Pablo Picasso has filed suit against a retired French electrician and his wife after they came forward with 271 previously unknown works by the artist. The estate is claiming illegal receipt of the works — a nice way of saying they were stolen. Pierre Le Guennec, 71, says that they were all gifts.

Ironically, Le Guennec was employed to install a security system at the house to prevent theft.

The trove of paintings include nine cubist pieces and one watercolor from Picasso’s blue period. These paintings alone would have made the home of this retired electrician one of the greatest repositories of Picasso in the world — rivaling the Met with its recent show of 300 such works.

The very notion of 271 new Picasso paintings is amazing. The man worked for Picasso in the 1970s and this could create a fascinating contest over credibility if has no written record. The absence of any prior disclosure certainly makes the claim somewhat suspicious. Such cases can become the ultimate jury question — with members looking at the practices of the artist. It is quite common for many artists to give away their works, even as payment for services. This number of paintings, however, would represent a lot of work or a lot of friendship. It is also striking that the paintings were not previously known to be missing.

Picasso died a few years later and was already an international superstar in the art field. This was not some starving painter trading paintings for baguettes. Moreover, it is hard to see how much of a friendship could have developed over the course of the installation of a security system. Of course, there is always the possibility that Picasso was simply eccentric and a bit daffy in his final years. Anyway it goes, it should make for an interesting tort or criminal case or both.

Police raided the house and confiscated the paintings. He was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen goods.

12 thoughts on “Trove of 271 Picasso Paintings Found in House of Retired Electrician”

  1. I can hardly wait for the movie. I think they will figure a way to screw this poor guy out of his paintings. After all it is FRANCE. I think Picasso’s wife had a thing for him….and gave him some paintings as gifts. Obviously nobody missed them.

  2. Wonder what the ‘supply and demand’ market will do the the price of Picasso paintings now there are a further 271 available?

  3. Yeah, exactly how will the family prove they were stolen? Other than just saying “hey he stole those”. I would think you have some duty to report things are stolen, when in fact they are stolen.

    If Picasso was as mad as a hatter, i could see a scenario where he said “yeah take the garbage, im just gonna throw it out. take all u want”.

    It seems hard for a guy like that to steal that vast a quantity of items…

  4. Last Saturday, I attended an exhibition of a selection of Picasso’s work at the Seattle Art Museum. It was very interesting. While I liked a lot of the paintings and most of the charcoal drawings, I still don’t think I would like to have any of them hanging on my walls. But, I was still greatful for an opportunity that may never occurred had the SAM not had some very enterprising leadership. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

  5. Hmmmm…The notion that 271 art pieces were given to this electrician as gifts is implausible. Be that as it may, I wonder how the Picasso estate will prove that these were stolen since they are not listed as stolen. Only the Picasso and the recipients know the truth. I hope the electrician has a great lawyer.

  6. Not many people know Picasso lived in a full-scale Transformer.

    It was fair payment for a job well done.

    True story.

  7. rcampbell,

    My entire family is democrat except my one and only grandson who is republican. We are hoping it is simple, youthful, rebellion.

    On the bright side he thinks Palin is an idiot and he never listens to talk radio.

  8. AY: Then take my family….They still do Not Normal things….

    I know what you mean. My sister is a teabagger.

  9. First of all he was nuttier that a Texas Fruit cake. Excuse me, people with money are not nuts, they are eccentric…..The bottom line is crazy people with money or not do a lot of things that “Normal” people do not….what is normal exactly…..I could see him doing something like this.

    I worked on the Howard Robard Hughes Estate and he did some strange things……Then take my family….They still do Not Normal things…..some people are just gifted…..

  10. This is a story that deserves following as it will be very interesting to watch the legal process unfold.

Comments are closed.