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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
World leaders mocked Trump because they’re tired of his ‘center of attention’ act: MSNBC guest
During an MSNBC segment on President Donald Trump's abrupt departure from NATO talks in London after video was released of world leaders making fun of him, an MSNBC guest said those same leaders have become tired of his act.
Speaking with host David Gura, the LA Times Eli Stokols said international diplomats have realized there is no dealing with the president who is in his own world and just wants attention..
"Your colleague had a great line: 'This is a president who views norms like a teenager views curfews,'" Gura began.
"Well, he likes going to these things and blowing them up and being the center of attention," Stokols replied.
Trump slammed for lawless obstruction of Congress: ‘He’s taken a sledgehammer to the Constitution’
On CNN Saturday, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), who voted for the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, discussed the path forward for impeaching President Donald Trump.
"We know moderate Democrats are a bit frustrated with leadership over potentially expanding the scope of their consideration, maybe the Mueller report findings and drawing up these articles of impeachment," said anchor Victor Blackwell. "Do you think it's a mistake not to include anything beyond the Ukraine matter?"
"Yes," said Holtzman. "I think it would be a mistake, although, you know, I'm still at a distance, and the members of the committee really have to, who have been digging into this deeply have the best feel, but my sense is that the, what the president did is so egregious, not just with regard to Ukraine, but what part of what's bad about his activities in Ukraine, is that he's taken a sledgehammer to the Constitution by saying that Congress has no right to get information, and he's cut off his committee, his administration from, and ordered and directed them not to cooperate with the committee in any way."
Giuliani pummeled by ex-press secretary for ‘returning to the scene of the crime’ to create Ukraine chaos
On CNN Saturday, Rudy Giuliani's former mayoral press secretary Ken Frydman harshly criticized his former boss for his ongoing efforts in the Ukraine scheme.
"As you've watched the former mayor over the last several years, have you identified a point at which things shifted for the man who I guess still is for some known at America's Mayor?" asked anchor Victor Blackwell."
"Well, yeah. I think when he went into business with Donald Trump," said Frydman. "You saw a — a severe change in his personality. He had a zealous need to make money, to be relevant. To be part of the political process. And you know right now he's making, I think, ill-advised decisions, like returning to the scene of the crime, Ukraine, to make a propagandist documentary. Almost as if he's playing, he and the president, are playing, 'catch me if you can.' The president will not participate in the impeachment hearings, and Rudy is off in the Ukraine doubling down."