It has been a record-breaking year for Picasso sales. In May, the highest price ever paid at auction for an artwork – £70m ($109.03 million dollars)– was handed over for Nude, Green Leaves and Bust in New York. The following month, a Picasso’s Blue Period piece, the portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto sold at Sotheby’s in London for more than £34m ($52.96 million dollars).
But this week, the late artist is news in France, where a former electrician turned in close to 300 never before seen paintings, and in Spain, where 6.6 million dollars worth of art was stolen from a truck, at least one Picasso among the loot.
France finds them
Picasso’s son Claude Picasso received a letter from former electrician Pierre Le Guennec, who said he owned original Picasso pieces and wanted to have them verified for authenticity. The electrician drove to Paris with the paintings in a suitcase and laid them out on a table.
“I felt a great surprise, naturally, lots of emotion at the discovery of pieces with which we were not familiar. But also a deep disturbance,” Picasso’s heir told French daily Liberation. “Many of these pieces were not dated, which means they never should have left the studio.”
Le Guennec told reporters that Picasso’s wife gave him the artworks.
“It’s Madame (Picasso) who gave them. But if Madame gave them, Monsieur was aware of it. She wasn’t going to do it just like that, was she?” he said. “What should have I done with them? ... They stayed in a box with other boxes that I have, from my job.”
Claude Picasso believes this story to be false. “It doesn’t hold up, frankly,” the artist’s son said.
The new batch of works includes nine extremely rare Cubist collages, a watercolor from Picasso’s Blue period, several painted hand studies, some 30 lithographs and over 200 drawings, as well as portraits of the artist’s first wife, Olga Khokhlova. Picasso’s heirs have appealed to a judge to have the works held by the courts until the mystery is solved.
Spain Looses them
Alleged thieves in Spain stole a truck containing about 20 works of art worth at least $6.6 million, including at least one by Pablo Picasso. The works were to be delivered to galleries in Madrid and Barcelona after being on display at an exhibition in Germany, according to reports.
Three masked men were videotaped robbing the parked truck last Saturday, in an industrial zone in Madrid’s southern suburbs. A police spokesman refused to provide or confirm any details of the theft, saying only that an investigation has been launched. Police would not say exactly which art works were stolen.
The online edition of the daily newspaper El Pais and other media sources however, have said the stolen goods included at least one work by Picasso as well as some by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida and Catalan artist Antoni Tapies.