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French court confirms sentence for Picasso’s electrician over hoarded art

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A French court on Tuesday confirmed the two-year suspended jail terms given to Pablo Picasso’s former electrician and his wife, who hoarded 271 of the great painter’s works in a garage for four decades.

The verdict by the Lyon court is the latest twist in a decade-long legal saga, which took the couple, who claim the works were a gift, all the way to France’s top appeals court.

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Pierre and Danielle Le Guennec were first given two-year suspended terms in 2015 after being convicted of possession of stolen goods over the huge trove of works by Picasso, including nine rare Cubist collages and a work from his famous Blue Period.

That verdict was upheld in 2016 by a higher court but then quashed by the Cour de Cassation, which ordered a retrial.

The former electrician, 80, and his wife, 76, were not in court Tuesday when they were found guilty for a third time.

“It is a triumph of truth and marks the end of a cover-up”, said Jean-Jacques Neuer, lawyer for Picasso’s son Claude Ruiz-Picasso.

He accused Pierre Le Guennec of playing for art dealers “the role that drug mules play in drug-trafficking”, alleging that rich art dealers had sought to exploit the couple.

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The Le Guennecs have always denied stealing the works.

At his original trial Pierre Le Guennec claimed that Picasso had presented him with the artworks towards the end of his life to reward him for his loyal service.

But he later changed his account, telling an appeal court that the works were part of a huge collection that Picasso’s widow Jacqueline asked him to conceal after the artist’s death in 1973.

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Le Guennec said he stored more than a dozen garbage bags of unsigned works which Jacqueline later retrieved, except for one bag which she left him saying: “Keep this, it’s for you.”

The affair came to light when Pierre Le Guennec attempted to get the works authenticated by Claude Ruiz-Picasso in 2010.

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The artist’s heirs promptly filed a complaint against him, triggering an investigation.

Commenting on the latest ruling, Neuer said: “If you have 271 works by Picasso and you want to put them on the international market you need a certificate of authenticity.

“If you see the Picasso estate and tell them these works fell from the sky or you picked them up from the bric-a-brac market, there is little chance anyone will believe you.”

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Companies owned by this billionaire GOP governor received up to $24 million in bailout loans

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Companies owned by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his family received up to $24 million from one of the federal government’s key coronavirus economic relief programs, according to data made public Monday.

At least six companies from Justice’s empire showed up on the list of Paycheck Protection Program aid recipients released by the Small Business Administration.

The Greenbrier Hotel Corporation, Justice’s firm that owns and operates the iconic luxury resort, received a loan of between $5 million and $10 million.

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Trump friends and family cleared for millions in small business bailout

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Businesses tied to President Donald Trump’s family and associates stand to receive as much as $21 million in government loans designed to shore up payroll expenses for companies struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to federal data released Monday.

A hydroponic lettuce farm backed by Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., applied for at least $150,000 in Small Business Administration funding. Albert Hazzouri, a dentist frequently spotted at Mar-a-Lago, asked for a similar amount. A hospital run by Maria Ryan, a close associate of Trump lawyer and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, requested more than $5 million. Several companies connected to the president’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, could get upward of $6 million.

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50 dead in Japan floods as rescuers ‘race against time’

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Emergency services in western Japan were "racing against time" Tuesday to rescue people stranded by devastating floods and landslides that have killed at least 50, as the country braced for more torrential downpours.

Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) issued its second-highest emergency warning for heavy rain and landslides over vast swathes of the country's southwest and said "risks are rising" nationwide.

Television footage showed swollen rivers breaking their banks and sweeping away bridges while landslides destroyed roads and buried houses, complicating access for the 80,000 rescue personnel battling to save lives.

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