Legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso’s electrician has been held guilty for the third time as France’s top appeals court upheld the earlier jail sentence. Pierre Le Guennec and his wife Danielle had hoarded 271 artworks of the great painter in their garage for 40 years which was stolen. Police seized the artworks from Le Guennec when he tried to get it authenticated from Picasso’s son and manager of the Picasso administration, Claude Ruiz-Picasso. In the decade-long legal battle over the paintings of Picasso, Le Guennec had earlier claimed the paintings were gifted to him by the artist as a gesture of thanks for his “loyal service”. Later, he changed the story saying Picasso’s widow Jacqueline had entrusted him with a larger collection of paintings and had asked him to hide it after painter’s death.
The convict, who was hired by Picasso for running errands and performing odd-jobs, further elaborated that he had kept the paintings in 12 garbage bags as per the directives of Jacqueline. According to Le Guennac, Jacqueline took the collection with her at some point in time but left behind one bag saying, “Keep this, it’s for you”.
In 2015, the couple was handed over two-year suspended terms after getting convicted in the theft case. A higher court upheld the verdict in 2016 but the Cour de Cassation ordered a retrial quashing the decision. The latest decision of two years suspended jail sentence can no longer be appealed in any court even though the couple has maintained that they are innocent and denied stealing.
The recovered artwork includes six oils on canvas, nine rare Cubist collages, 28 lithographs, and sketchbooks dating between 1900 and 1932, with an estimated worth between 74 million to $98 million. Claude Ruiz-Picasso's lawyer said that no one will believe a person who will claim 271 works by Picasso fell from nowhere or found it in the Bric-a-Brac market.