The court of appeal in Aix-en-Provence upheld the two-year suspended prison sentence of Pierre Le Guennec, 77, Picasso’s electrician who hid 271 works stolen from the artist for over four decades. In this final judgement on 16 December, his wife Danielle received the same penalty.
The art works, valued at €70m to €80m, will be returned to the Picasso family. Dated from between 1900 to 1930, they include portraits of family and friends, such as his first wife Olga, Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob, two sketchbooks as well as extremely rare and precious Cubist collages. None were catalogued or signed. It was the biggest discovery of Picasso works since the artist’s death in 1973.
The couple first claimed the works were given to them by Picasso himself, and then, in a second version, by his wife Jacqueline in the artist’s presence. During the appeal hearing, Le Guennec admitted that they “had lied”. He further claimed that Jacqueline had given him the 271 works as a reward, while asking him to hide 16 or 17 garbage bags full of works after Picasso’s death, so they would not be included in the inventory of the artist’s works or the succession. But evidence of inconsistencies in the dates contradicted the electrician’s story. In the final verdict, the judge described the Le Guennecs’ story as an “implausible and whimsical tale”.
It was also proved that the Le Guennecs had close links with Picasso’s late chauffeur, Maurice Bresnu, who, according to the criminal investigation, stole between 500 and 600 of the artist’s drawings before selling most of them.