A decades-long legal saga between Picasso’s estate and the artist’s electrician involving a trove of hoarded artwork has ended with a decisive verdict from the French High Court.
Per AFP, a court in Lyon upheld two-year suspended jail terms for Pierre and Danielle Le Guennec, who were convicted in 2015 of possessing 271 works that authorities believed were stolen. The massive trove included nine Cubist collages and a work from Picasso’s Blue Period.
That verdict was upheld in 2016 by a higher court, then overturned by France’s supreme court of appeal, Cour de Cassation, which ordered a retrial.
“It is a triumph of truth and marks the end of a cover-up,” said Jean-Jacques Neuer, lawyer for Picasso’s son Claude Ruiz-Picasso.
The Le Guennecs have denied stealing the works. At the trial, Pierre initially claimed that Picasso had gifted him the artworks as reward him for his longtime service. He later changed his account during the first appeal trial, saying Picasso’s wife Jacqueline requested that he store more than a dozen garbage bags of unsigned works after Picasso’s death in 1973. According to Pierre, Jacqueline later retrieved the cache, but left one bag for the Le Guennecs.
The Le Guennecs got into legal trouble after Pierre presented the works to be authenticated by Ruiz-Picasso in 2010. The estate then filed a report with local authorities.
“If you have 271 works by Picasso and you want to put them on the international market you need a certificate of authenticity,” Neuer told AFP. “If you see the Picasso estate and tell them these works fell from the sky or you picked them up from the bric-a-brac market, there is little chance anyone will believe you.”