60 Minutes recently revived the story of the Le Guennecs, a French couple who worked for Pablo Picasso and his wife Jacqueline. Several years ago, the Le Guennecs emerged with a cache of Picasso’s notebooks, sketches and collages claiming they were a gift from Jacqueline for loyal service.
Eventually, the two were convicted of possessing stolen property but the two-year sentence was suspended. Now the couple return to the public eye with a story that casts them as simple folk preyed-upon by the elite French heirs of the world’s most famous artist.
The stash contained works spanning more than 30 years from 1900 to 1932. Some were preliminary sketches of well-known works displayed in museums and galleries around the world, like this one from 1932, “Woman Seated in Red Armchair” at the Musee Picasso in Paris. The similarity is striking. And then there’s this one: a never-before-seen portrait of Olga, Picasso’s first wife and constant subject for nearly 20 years. Included in the 271 works were six sketches, 28 lithographs and nine cubist collages — considered museum quality. There were also those two full sketch pads with 81 drawings. An art trove later valued at as much as $100 million. Claude Picasso could not believe his eyes and did not believe the Le Guennecs.
Why 60 Minutes has revived this story is not readily apparent. A key component of the story, Le Guennecs relationship to another former Picasso employee who had stolen art from the master is fairly well known. There’s no new information that exonerates the couple.
The Picasso Portfolio (CBS News)