Police Seize Picasso Worth $16 Million From Pensioner Who Said It Was A Gift

A pensioner in Rome told detectives he received a Picasso painting worth $16 million as a thank you gift from a customer. Now police in Italy are trying to track down the true owner of the valuable painting.

Rome police became interested in the painting when the pensioner instructed auction house Sotheby’s to sell the painting. When Sotheby’s tried to secure a state authorization to export the valuable painting, at that stage declaring the value at €1.4 million, this triggered the investigation.

According to the Guardian, during their investigations, police identified the painting as corresponding to one mentioned in the 1961 edition of the Zervos, a catalogue of the famous Spanish artist’s work, considered to be the definitive guide to Picasso’s artistic output. It turned out to be a Picasso worth $16 million.

It seems that in more than 40 Picasso paintings, mostly from his Cubist period, bottles of an iconic British beer, Bass pale ale, featured with a distinctive red triangle on their labels. The same British beer, which was popular worldwide, also appears in impressionist Edouard Manet’s 1882 painting, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere.

The painting. which the pensioner said was a generous thank you gift, featured images of this same beer, raising suspicion with the police.

According to the pensioner, who used to work as a frame-maker, back in 1978, a customer who had recently lost his wife had come to his shop, upset after breaking a photo frame which held her picture. The frame-maker was touched by the man’s story and replaced the glass for free.

Business Insider quotes the pensioner as saying it was two days after this that the customer returned to his workshop and presented him with the Picasso, giving no indication of its value or artistic significance. He told the police that it was only last year that he realized that the painting could be a Picasso and had thoughts of selling it. He had no idea that it was a Picasso worth $16 million, however.

The painting, measuring 54 x 45 cm is an oil on canvas representation of a violin and a bottle of Bass beer which experts have now authenticated as being a 1912 work by Picasso, at the height of his Cubist phase.

Now Rome police are trying to track down the true owner of the painting by Picasso worth $16 million. With an estimated value of that amount, the pensioner is no doubt feeling a little upset.

In February, the Inquisitr reported on the trial being faced by a couple accused of stealing 271 artworks by Pablo Picasso. However in that case, the couple didn’t say they received them as a gift.

[Image: Pablo Picasso in 1954 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Festival Karsh]