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Posted at 12:38 PM ET, 11/29/2010

Picasso's never-before-seen 'treasure trove' discovered in trunk (Photos)

By Melissa Bell
A painting of a hand by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)

One oft-told tale of Pablo Picasso is that when presented with a bill at a bar, he'd whip off a sketch on a napkin, sign and date it, and the bill would be considered paid. The artist produced some 20,000 pieces of work in his long life, the Metropolitan Museum of Art told the Associated Press. And 271 of those pieces have just been discovered in a trunk at a retired French electrician's home.

The treasure trove of never-before-seen work, authenticated by the artist's estate, was revealed to the art world Sunday. However, the estate is questioning if the pieces were really a gift from the prolific artist or if they were stolen by the electrician, who once worked for Picasso.

Pierre Le Guennec, the 71-year-old former electrician, and his wife brought the artwork to the estate's notice in September, seeking to have it authenticated. They said the artist gave them the pieces as a gift. Picasso's son Claude, however, thinks their story does not "hold water" and has filed a suit for alleged illegal receipt of the works.

The total estimated value of the collection is around $79.35 million.

I'd like to think the artwork-on-a-napkin story is true and that Picasso did hand off 271 pieces of art to his electrician for a light bulb well installed.

"Olga Accoudee" ("Olga Elbowed") by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)
A sketch by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)
"Still life glass sand" by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)
"Papier colle pipe et bouteille" ("Copy paste pipe and bottle") by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)
"Nature Morte Verre" ("Still Life Glass") by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)
A sketch by Picasso. (Succession Picasso)

By Melissa Bell  | November 29, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
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I've always admired Picasso's work and this is a much welcomed treasure. I am in total agreement with the estate..the art belongs to them but the family should at least get a reward - a "finder's fee".
If anyone believes that Picasso gave his electrician 271 pieces of his artwork, I have several bridges I would like to sell you.

Posted by: ADaisyADay | November 29, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

There is a time and a season for everything significant to unfold before our very own eyes...

Posted by: badcompany | November 29, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Picasso was eccentric and prolific enough to have thrown out the trunk (and contents) as unwanted rubbish.
The electrician wouldn't have approached the estate if he was expecting to be accused of thievery.

Posted by: OttoDog | November 30, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

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