In southern France, a retired electrician who worked for Pablo Picasso (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk) says he has 271 of previously unknown works by the artist.
The 271 pieces include lithographs, cubist paintings, notebooks and a watercolour. All together they are said to be worth about 60m euros.
Although Pierre Le Guennec, 71, said Picasso gave him the works as a gift, the estate’s administrators have filed a case for alleged illegal receipt of the works of art.
French newspaper Liberation said the lost Picassos include a watercolour from his Blue Period.
The nine cubist works in Le Guennec’s possession are worth 40m euros alone, experts said.
Picasso died in 1973. During the three previous years, the electrician installed burglar alarm systems at the artist’s numerous houses in France, including his villa in Cannes.
Le Guennec approached the artist’s estate in in September, in order to get the canvases authenticated by Picasso’s son, Claude.
But Claude Picasso dismissed Le Guennec’s explanation about how he came into possession of the art works, saying his father would never have given so many works to a single person.
“To give away such a large quantity, that’s unheard of. It doesn’t add up,” he told Liberation. “It was a part of his life.”
Right after the authentication of the works, the family contacted France’s specialist art police. They have already raided Le Guennec’s home on the Cote d’Azur, confiscating the paintings and interviewing him under caution.
According to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Picasso produced more than 20,000 works of art during his long career. And hundreds have been listed as missing, partly because he was so prolific, the AP news agency reports.