Retired electrician found guilty of holding stolen Picassos

Retired electrician Pierre Le Guennec and his wife Danielle have been convicted of possessing stolen goods, namely 271 drawings, collages and paintings by Pablo Picasso. The trove of previously unknown works came to light in September of 2010 when Pierre Le Guennec carried a suitcase full of them to the Picasso Administration to have them authenticated. His story was that either Picasso himself or his wife Jacqueline gave the art to Pierre as a gift for having installed a security system and done some other work around the Côte d’Azur estate.

Picasso’s son Claude found this account unbelievable because while the artist was generous with his prolific work, he routinely signed and dated a piece before giving it to someone. There was certainly no precedent for Picasso handing over hundreds of random, unsigned pieces at one time. Claude pressed charges against the Le Guennecs for receipt of stolen goods.

Pierre and Danielle gave different accounts of how they had acquired this multi-million dollar treasure.

[On the stand Pierre] recalled that one day, in a corridor, Jacqueline Picasso had handed him a closed box containing the works, saying: “Here, it’s for you. Take it home.” He said: “Thank you, madame” and they never discussed it again. During the inquiry, Danielle Le Guennec had separately recalled a different version: that her husband came home with a stuffed rubbish bag, and told her Picasso had given the works to him when tidying his studio.

Both stories strained credulity, as far as the Picasso heirs were concerned, and no clear answers were forthcoming in court. They do suspect that third parties may be involved.

The Picasso heirs’ lawyer had suggested in court that the couple might have been manipulated by an art smuggling ring. Pierre Le Guennec had claimed that, despite knowing nothing about art, he had personally used books about Picasso to draw up an inventory that was found with the cache of 180 lithographs, collages and paintings and 91 drawings. But in court, lawyers cast doubt over whether he wrote the inventory himself. It contained a note about a similarity to a Picasso work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. But in court, Pierre Le Guennec seemed not to have ever heard of MoMA.

The couple are in the 70s now and won’t be going to jail. They were given a two-year suspended sentence and the collection will be returned to Picasso’s heirs. The court made no determination as to who was responsible for the theft.


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Comment by Hels
2015-08-31 10:48:37

It is interesting that Pierre Le Guennec was taking his treasures to the Picasso Administration to have them authenticated. Did he not trust Picasso when the great artist “gave” the art to Pierre as a gift?

Comment by livius drusus
2015-09-01 02:20:02

Yes it’s not the most coherent of stories, is it?

Comment by Safety Switch Perth
2015-11-11 05:53:42

The Picasso beneficiaries’ attorney had recommended in court that the couple may have been controlled by a craftsmanship sneaking ring. Pierre Le Guennec had asserted that, in spite of knowing nothing about workmanship, he had by and by utilized books about Picasso to draw up a stock that was found with the store of 180 lithographs, collections and canvases and 91 drawings. In any case, in court, legal counselors cast question about whether he composed the stock himself. It contained a note around a closeness to a Picasso work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Be that as it may, in court, Pierre Le Guennec appeared not to have ever known about MoMA. Thanks!

Comment by Rob
2017-03-24 03:44:21

If he had stolen them why would he go public trying to get them authenticated? He could have anonymously consigned them to one of the major auction houses and left it at that. They look like early stuff, and paying off an electrician with what you were going to throw out anyway (as an embarrassment) might not seem such a bad idea to a wife/mistress of Picasso’s.

On the other hand, he might have stolen early stuff that he thought would not be noticed as missing, or was it just stuff he fished out their trash can, where if it were not ascribed to El Magnifico, it probably belonged anway!

Comment by Rob
2017-08-02 21:00:39

So Picasso Fils has no proof that these paintings were stolen, but some theories and a clever lawyer are enough to convict someone of theft under the Code Napoleon? Mais d’accord! M. et Mme. have different accounts of how they got a box of scribbles forty years before?! Impossible: they must remember what happened forty years ago; everyone else does! Besides, if the Grand Artiste was so impious as to discard his sacred and priceless works like so much waste paper, this fact must be buried quickly lest it give rise to lese majeste, or a certain lingering doubt in the minds of those who have paid fortunes for such mediocrities!

Comment by Michael Paterson
2018-10-10 04:50:04

Nice article you have shared with us and I have enjoyed very much while reading this article. Keep writing such kind of blogs. It’s really useful to all electricians.

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