Picasso's widow may have hidden artworks from family, court told
Source:the guardian Date: 2016-11-07 Size:
A man who kept nearly 300 Pablo Picasso artworks in his garage for almost 40 years……

Pierre Le Guennec Photograph: Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters

A man who kept nearly 300 Pablo Picasso artworks in his garage for almost 40 years has told a French appeal court the artist’s widow may have wanted to hide the works from his family.

“Mrs Jacqueline Picasso had problems with [her stepson] Claude [Ruiz] Picasso,”Pierre Le Guennec said, presenting a new version of events to the court in the southern city of Aix-en-Provence.

Le Guennec, convicted last year with his wife of possessing stolen goods, said Picasso’s widow Jacqueline asked him to store between 15 and 17 rubbish bags containing artworks after he died in April 1973. He said that some time later she retrieved the bags but gave him one of them, saying: “Keep this, it’s for you.”

Le Guennec said the widow was maybe trying to prevent the works from being inventoried for the succession, and said he did not tell the truth in the earlier trial out of “fear of being accused, along with Madame, of stealing these bags”. The 77-year-old, who was the Picassos’ handyman, had previously testified to being given the drawings while the artist was still alive, in 1971 or 1972.

The couple’s lawyer, Eric Dupond-Moretti, said he had learned the new version of events only a few days ago.

Le Guennec said Jacqueline gave him the 271 works – 180 single pieces and a notebook containing 91 drawings – as a gift recognising the couple’s devotion. He said he put the collection in his garage and discovered it again in 2009.

Claude Ruiz Picasso’s lawyer, Jean-Jacques Neuer, denounced Le Guennec’s testimony as a “staggering lie”, saying the case involved the “art market’s darkest and most powerful” forces engaged in an “international stolen art laundering” scam.

The collection, whose value has not been assessed, includes drawings of women and horses, nine rare cubist collages from the time Picasso was working with French artist Georges Braque, and a work from his “blue period”. Other more intimate works include portraits of Picasso’s mistress Fernande, drawings of his first wife Olga and a drawing of a horse for his children. The works were created between 1900 and 1932.

The authorities seized them after Le Guennec tried to get them authenticated in 2010, showing them to Ruiz Picasso, who represents the artist’s six heirs. The Picassos immediately pressed charges, and the works were handed over to Ruiz Picasso.

The Le Guennecs were initially given two-year suspended prison terms for possessing stolen goods by a court in March 2015. The defendants face maximum jail time of five years and a fine of €375,000 (£336,000) – or half the value of the pieces, whichever figure is greater – if the conviction is upheld.

The prosecutor has asked for the couple to be given five-year suspended sentences saying they had harmed Picasso’s memory.

[Editor] 孙涵