Picasso … Picasso … Generous Picasso … but where was I … ?

On November 29 I wrote about Pierre le Guennec, the retired electrician, who is the owner of 271 Picasso artworks.

On November 29 I wrote about Pierre le Guennec, the retired electrician, who is the owner of 271 Picasso artworks.

But what do you know?: someone else also has a hundred or so Picassos – paintings, sketches and watercolors.

Apparently, Picasso was a most generous man who gave his creations away to all, well almost all, who had gone his way: chauffeurs, electricians, plumbers, friends … women.

The latest Picasso ‘story’ is that one of those who had received gifts from Picasso was his chauffeur, a man named Maurice Bresnu, known as Nounours. The latter had passed away in 1991 and his widow, Jacqueline, once a chambermaid in the Picasso household, had inherited the Picassos.

Some of the Picassos, the widowed Jacqueline  had hung on the walls of her home.

Speaking to today’s Le Parisien, one of the nephews of the childless Jacqueline, said: “I remember a Harlequin (Arlequin) hanging on a wall.”

The nephew, now 60 years old, has been identified only as Philippe.

Jacqueline passed away last year (2009) and left a Will in which she named six people as her heirs.

Philippe and his three sisters were not amongst them.

“I am not going to start running after Picassos at my age,” he, apparently not being bothered about having been excluded from his aunt’s will, told the newspaper.

One of the six heirs is the late Jacqueline’s notary.  (And as I understand French law, a notary can not inherit from a client. Neither can a physician inherit from his/her patient.)

But French law making it almost impossible to disinherit a blood relative though, Philippe and his three siblings might, despite the Will, find themselves a little richer soon. That is, if France’s OCBC – Office Central de lutte contre le traffic de Biens Culturels  (Central Office for the Fight against Traffic in Cultural Goods) – finds that Picasso had indeed generously given the works to Nounours and their auction will be allowed to take place. The artworks would have gone under the hammer at Drouot, France’s largest auction house tomorrow (Thursday, December 9), but the OCBC has stepped in to stop the auction.  Stop it, at least, for the moment.

So what’s going on?

It turns out that retired electrician, Pierre le Guennec, is a cousin by marriage of the late Jacqueline Bresnu. The two couples – the Le Guennecs and the Bresnus –  had lived side by side in those years in the 1970s when Pierre and the two Bresnus had worked for Picasso. “But we hardly ever visited them,” Danièle, Pierre’s wife told Le Parisien.

The plot however thickens.

Pierre le Guennec is a second person named in Jacqueline Bresnu’s Will. Therefore, not only does he have 271 Picasso’s of his own, but he will be a beneficiary if the OCBC gives Drouot permission to proceed with the auction of the Bresnu treasure.

Drouot is not very communicative about how it had come by Nounours’ Picasso treasure. It only says that the Picassos have been withdrawn from auction for ‘administrative reasons’.

Pierre Le Guennecs is a little more talkative now than when the story of his multi-million euro treasure broke ten days ago.

He told the weekly true crime magazine, le nouveau Detective, that he does not care about the money an auction of his Picasso treasure could eventually fetch. He is an ill man, he said, and has already undergone two major operations.

“I’m not sure I will be around for much longer,” he added.

He wanted to clear up the Picasso thing so that his children and grand-children’s future would be secure.

On that score, he need not worry.

If the OCBS finds that Picasso did give him the 271 works of art as a gift, and Picasso’s real heirs withdraw their case against X for having obtained them fraudulently, then their future would indeed be secure.  More than that: the Le Guennec family will be millionaires until the day our World comes to an end.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

3 Responses

12-8-2010 at 14:22:00

Wish I had an attic

12-10-2010 at 13:03:19

Your Comments Mon grand oncle dit nounours avait bien reçu ces oeuvres et c’est bien connu dans notre famille. Et c’etait le trésor de Maurice, mon père le dit “Philippe” dans l’article n’a jamais rien voulu du vivant de son oncle et sa tante, mais a 60 ans si proche de sa maigre retraite un coup de pouce nommé Picasso ne serait pas du luxe pour mes parents. En attendant la suite de l’histoire…

12-10-2010 at 13:24:56

Merci Chris pour votre réponse. Je ne doute pas que Pablo Picasso à bien offrir ces œuvres a Maurice Bresnu, l’oncle de votre père, Philippe. Cordialement, Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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