The verdict has been reached—75-year-old Pierre Le Guennec, Picasso’s former electrician back in the 1970s, has been dealt a two year (suspended) prison sentence for possession of 271 stolen, never-before-seen Picasso works which he claimed were a gift from the late artist. According to The Guardian, his wife, Danielle Le Guennec, was also convicted, though the court in Grasse did not determine who exactly was responsible for the theft.
The trove of collages, sketches, drawings, and lithographs had been stored in a cardboard box in the Le Guennec garage in Mouans-Sartoux until 2010, when the couple brought a selection of drawings to Picasso’s son and estate representative, Claude Picasso, in Paris.
The Guardian reports that:
suspicious about the unknown works, Picasso’s heirs called police and filed a legal complaint. The couple’s garage in the town of Mouans-Sartoux was raided and a total of 271 works were found, making it the most important discovery of Picasso art since his death. The pieces, created between 1900 and 1932, included nine rare Cubist collages from the time Picasso was working with the French artist Georges Braque, work from his “blue period”, as well as intimate family pieces, including portraits of his mistress Fernande, drawings of his first wife, Olga, and a drawing of a horse for his children.
Pierre Le Guennec claimed in court that after he had become a trusted friend of the family, Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline had one day simply handed him a box with the works enclosed. Picasso’s family rejected Le Guennec’s claim, not because the alleged generosity seemed uncharacteristic, but because the artist never gave away work without signing and dating it first.
The works, unofficially estimated at around €60 million (£43.5 million/$65.1 million) altogether, have been returned to the Picasso Administration. According to The Art Newspaper, Catherine Hutin, Jacqueline Picasso’s daughter, plans to donate her share of the collection to the recently reopened Musée Picasso in Paris.