30 Nov 2010

Hundreds of Picasso works seized

2:50 pm on 30 November 2010

French authorities have reportedly seized a collection of paintings by Pablo Picasso that were in the possession of a retired electrician, who worked for the artist.

The man claims he had 271 works, includes lithographs, cubist paintings, notebooks and a watercolour and is said to be worth about 60 million euros.

Pierre Le Guennec, 71, installed burglar alarm systems at Picasso's numerous houses in France during the three years before the artist died in 1973.

He says the artist gave him the works as gifts, but the estate's administrators have filed a case for alleged illegal receipt of the works of art, the BBC reports.

In September, Mr Le Guennec approached the artist's estate in an attempt to get the canvases authenticated by Picasso's son, Claude.

Claude Picasso dismissed Mr Le Guennec's explanation about how he came into possession of the art works.

He said his father would never have given so many works to a single person.

According to French newspaper Liberation, the lost Picassos include a watercolour from his Blue Period.

Once the works were authenticated, the family contacted France's specialist art police who have reportedly already raided Mr Le Guennec's home on the Cote d'Azur, confiscating the paintings and interviewing him under caution.

The BBC reports a multimillion-euro legal battle over the ownership of the paintings will now begin.