March 18, 2013

ARTNews' George Stolz on "Authenticating Picasso"

Pablo Picasso at 90 Photographed by Ara Güler
 in the South of France in 1972
ARTnews contributing editor George Stolz presents the story on "Authenticating Picasso" in the January issue. What is and what isn't an artwork by Pablo Picasso is being sorted out amidst conflict amongst the artist's heirs, Stolz writes:

"Forty years after Picasso's death, while his paintings are among the most expensive ever sold, the problem of how to authenticate his work remains a challenge. To avoid mistakes, four of his five surviving heirs have clarified the process but have not included his eldest daughter."

Poor health of Maya Widmaier-Picasso (b. 1935), Picasso's daughter by his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter (1927-37), and the tension between Maya and her half-brother Claude, Picasso's son with his mistress Françoise Gilot (1943-53) have left the family's authentication business solely to Claude since last September. Stolz explains:
The right to authenticate Picasso's work, however, is considered an inherited moral right, or droit moral. Only individual heirs have this right. When Claude exercises his droit moral to authenticate works by his father, he does so as an individual heir (as does Maya), not in his capacity as the estate administrator. Under French law, an artist's descendants are presumed to have an innate understanding of - or at least a privileged firsthand familiarity with -- the art created by their progenitor, and are thus entitled to issue certificates of authenticity.

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