A French electrician who claims to own 271 unknown works by Pablo Picasso, valued at $80 million, has sent a shock wave throughout the country’s legal and artistic community, according to the Paris daily newspaper, Liberation.
The paper says Pierre Le Guennec, who installed burglar alarm systems at Picasso’s numerous residences in France before the artist died in 1973, approached the artist’s estate in September in an attempt to get the canvases authenticated by Picasso’s son, Claude Picasso.
Experts contacted by Liberation said the nine cubist works in Le Guennec’s possession were alone worth 40 million euros ($53 million).
Le Guennec told Picasso’s son that his father had given him the paintings as gifts, Liberation said.
“That doesn’t stand up,” Claude Picasso told Liberation. “It was part of his life.”
Picasso’s heirs immediately contacted the Central Office for the Fight Against Traffic in Cultural Goods. Police raided Le Guennec’s home on the Cote d’Azur, seized the paintings and took the 71-year-old electrician into custody, Liberation said.