Hundreds of previously unknown Picasso works valued at $80 million are at the center of a legal battle between a Frenchman who owns the art and the prolific artist’s family estate, which claims the retired electrician stole the pieces.
Pierre Le Guennec, 71, of France, approached the family in September to authenticate the 271 pieces, which he said were in his garage since the 1970s. Le Guennec said Picasso gave him the artwork in exchange for work he did at the artist’s homes.
Pablo Picasso’s son, Claude Picasso, 63, realized they were real and suspected Le Guennec of stealing them, published reports said.
Police raided Le Guennec’s home and confiscated the art. He hasn’t been charged with a crime.
The family is suing to retrieve the works, and the French government is investigating the case.
But Pablo Picasso’s son said the artist wouldn’t have given away the pieces.
“To have given so much … it doesn’t make sense, to be honest,” Claude Picasso told French newspaper Liberation. “It’s true Pablo Picasso was quite generous, but … many of these pieces weren’t dated, which shows they should never have left his studio.”
The collection comprises portraits, collages, lithographs and others that were produced from 1900 to 1932, reports said.