An elderly French couple has come forward with 271 paintings and sketches by Pablo Picasso that they claim the artist gave them as a present. But are they the real thing?
The collection of watercolors, lithographs, portraits, cubist collages and sketches have been authenticated and their combined valued is set at about $80 million, according to Jean-Jacques Neuer, the lawyer representing Pablo Picasso's only surviving son, Claude Ruiz-Picasso.
We've never seen anything like this with regard to Picasso, Neuer told The New York Times in a telephone interview. It's completely stupefying. He added: There is no debate over the authenticity of the works. There is no possible doubt.
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In fact, Pierre Le Guennec, a 71-year-old retired electrician, and his wife previously mailed the Picasso Administration photos of some of the works in order to have them deemed as genuine. They were told that Ruiz-Picasso would have to see the works in person in order to authenticate them.
The couple brought the paintings to Ruiz-Picasso in a suitcase, and after thoroughly studying them, he confirmed that they weren't counterfeits . Ruiz-Picasso did find their recollection of how they attained the art works highly suspicious, and doubts that his father would have given away so many of his paintings without dedicating or dating any of them.
The art works have since been seized from the couple and an investigation is underway to determine their origins . Le Guennec stands by his story that Picasso gifted them his paintings after Le Guennec installed burglar alarms in several of the artist's homes.
There are only questions in this whole story, for the moment, said Christine Pinault, an official at the Picasso Administration. Everyone is wondering how such a thing could happen.