Friday, July 08, 2011

Pilfering Picasso

Le Guennec (left), Picasso (right)
photo courtesy

How would you like to own a work by Picasso? How about 271 works?

For retired electrician Pierre Le Guennec, 71, and his wife Danielle, 61, that was a reality. Impossible, you say?

The couple has been accused of “concealing,” the French legal term for possession of stolen goods. The goods include lithographs, notebooks, collages, sketches, prints and 7 cubist masterpieces never before seen by the general public. However, Le Guennec claims that Picasso along with his wife Jacqueline gifted them to him as a thank you for the alarm system he installed on their estate. Huh? Makes you wonder what you would get if you ever picked up a pencil for Picasso. I mean if he got 271 works of art for good electrical work, I could at least get two sketches for a good deed, right? But I digress.

The 271 works, estimated to be worth over $102 million, were stashed––wait for it––in his dusty garage for over 40 years. How did he get caught? Le Guennec went to have the works authenticated at Picasso’s estate and as you could imagine this came as a major surprise to the people there. Especially Claude Picasso, son of the late artist, who was less than amused at the electrician’s claim that they were gifts. Claude explained that even though his father was a generous man (obviously), he made it a habit to date, dedicate and sign his works because he knew some of the recipients might try to sell them.

The fate of the electrician in possession of the art collection Musée Picasso would kill for is still unknown. If convicted, he and his wife could face up to ten years in prison. On the other hand, 40 years have passed since Picasso allegedly gifted the works to Le Guennec, and with the two star witnesses, Mr. and Mrs. Pablo Picasso, deceased, it could be more complicated than lawyers think.

Oh, and for the concerned art lovers out there, the 271 works are safe and sound in the French capital. GMOA’s Picasso, a work on paper, is currently resting in the vaults but will be on view again in January or February 2012. You can read more about it in the museum’s catalogue of prints and drawings, “Tracing Vision: Modern Drawings from the Georgia Museum of Art,” available in the Museum Shop or on our website.

or pictures of the discovered Picasso works click here.

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